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Organic farming experts from SIA “Field and Forest” in cooperation with the researchers from the Institute for Environmental Solutions (IES) have developed organic cultivation technologies for 5 medicinal and aromatic plants suitable for conditions of Latvia.



Changing environmental conditions and global market trends have increased demand on natural products grown using environmentally friendly methods, such as organically grown medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs). In Latvia, there are many species of MAPs with high market potential and biological value. Among them are valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.), chamomile (Matricaria recutita), echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia), common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and siler (Saposhnikovia divaricata). At the same time there is a lack of knowledge about the most suitable growing technologies of MAPs for organic farming. To research them for the conditions in Latvia,  farming experts from SIA “Field and Forest” and IES’s researchers developed experimental garden located in Priekuļi municipality. Over 3-year period in the garden they conducted research on genetic diversity, stability of yield morphological, biochemical and other parameters of the 5 above-mentioned plants.


Dr. Arta Kronberga, leading researcher of SIA “Field and Forest”, about the importance of the study: “The task of this research was to develop growing technologies of 5 MAPs as it had not been studied before in Latvia. Although, these plants have high biological value and promising market potential there is a lack of knowledge of appropriate growing and cultivation technologies for Latvia’s climate conditions. Moreover, before the research we didn’t know what kind of and how much active substances these plants actually contain.”


During the development of innovative methodology for organic cultivation of high value MAPs researchers came to conclusion that all the studied species are well suited for climate conditions in Latvia. Furthermore, they are able to ensure high quality yield that meets the requirements of the European Pharmacopoeia (common quality standards throughout the pharmaceutical industry in Europe, sets minimum requirements for exporting of these MAPs). According to the results few of the researched MAPs are capable of exceeding these requirements by even two times.

 

“During the research we have concluded that all five MAPs are suitable for cultivation in Latvia, both in terms of the quantity of active substances and the quality of yield. At the same time, in order to achieve the required quality of yield, growing of each MAP must comply with specific rules described in developed cultivation technologies, such as, right choice of variety, the distance between the rows on the field, the optimal time of harvesting and other details,” Dr. A Kronberga highlights importance of developed cultivation technologies.

To calculate the potential return on growing of each MAP, the developed technologies also include an economic assessment of plant cultivation. For economic assessment researchers took into account costs of growing, the most suitable cultivation technologies that ensures the highest quality of yield and other factors. Considering that yield parameters varies for each species, economic assessment is very important. For example – while common dandelion has species with roots weighing up to 1 kg, the roots of valerian varies from 600 to 800 g, but other MAPs have even lower values of harvested roots. Researchers concluded that the cultivation of all 5 MAPs in organic farming could be economically viable and potentially profitable. To achieve it, in the product development stage requirements included in the developed cultivation technology need to be considered and used.


Additional part of this research included assessment of genetic resources of wild valerian, chamomile and common dandelion found in Latvia. Assessment of genetic resources of these plants was done for the first time. According to Dr. A. Kronberga: “Assessment of genetic resources showcases that wild dandelion growing in Latvia has the same values of productivity and chemical composition as commercial species grown in other parts of the World. It means that using developed cultivation technologies Latvian wild dandelion can be easily adjusted for commercial cultivation. Valerian, on the other hand, needs further breeding to be suitable for commercial cultivation.”



The process of developing cultivation technologies also includes a testing variety of innovative computer vision and machine learning technologies. Methods such as plant surface area measurements, help researchers to save time. Usually it is carried out manually by visual assessment or measuring surface using a ruler. Researchers regularly photographed plants growing in experimental gardens. Images were processed using specially trained algorithm capable of distinguishing leaf’s and surface of flower heads from the overall body of the plant. This innovative method helps to understand the correlation between surface area parameters and root yield indicators. IES plans to advance this technology with drones that would take photos from the field, thus, saving valuable time for researchers.

 

The research is a part of the project “Growing genetic diversity of medicinal and aromatic plants” (Nr.1.1.1.1/16/A/307). It is supported by European Regional Development Fund, as a part of Measure 1.1.1.1 “Industry-Driven Research” of specific objective 1.1.1 “To increase the research and innovation capacity of scientific institutions of Latvia and their ability to attract external funding by investing in human resources and infrastructure”.

Find more about the project here.

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In August 2019, the Latvian organic farming company SIA “Field and Forest” and the largest Estonian household chemical company “Mayeri industries” AS started joint work on the development of new liquid cleaning and personal hygiene products. They will be based on herbal water as a natural fragrance.



As people’s awareness of climate change and the need for sustainable land management practices increase, there is a growing societal demand for locally sourced products. SIA “Field and Forest” and the company “Mayeri Industries” AS continue to work on the development of new liquid household cleaning and personal hygiene products, based on herbal water, which acts as a natural fragrance. The project will result in the creation of four prototypes of new products – liquid soap, universal cleaner, laundry softener and dishwashing detergent.

Organic water will be obtained from locally grown medicinal and aromatic plants – chamomile, calendula, mint, lemon mint, pine, spruce, and others using a vacuum fractionation system. The creation of such a raw material will replace synthetic chemicals and valuable freshwater resources, which are currently incorporated in large quantities into liquid household cleaning and personal care products.

For the development of new products, the partners are carrying out industrial research and experimental development activities. In the period from October 2019 to March 2020, SIA “Field and Forest” tested various technological solutions for obtaining herbal water and evaluated the chemical, physical and microbiological properties of the raw material to be incorporated in the formulations of new products.

About the companies

Mayeri Industries is the largest manufacturer of washing and cleaning products in the Baltic States. The target market for our products is the Nordic region. We believe that the washing and cleaning products can be produced without affecting the natural environment negatively. Mayeri Industries AS has the biggest laundry washing product portfolio with EU Ecolabel in Europe.

SIA “Field and Forest” is a certified organic agriculture company operating since 2005. It cultivates, harvests and processes organic crops, medicinal and aromatic plants. SIA “Field and Forest” is one of the largest organic chamomile growers and producers in the Eastern Europe. The company’s research activities are aimed at increasing genetic diversity of medicinal and aromatic plants, development of new plant cultivation methods and added-value products, and collection of traditional knowledge through ethnobotanical expeditions.

Development of new liquid cleaning and personal hygiene products based on herbal water as a natural fragrance was co-funded by the Interreg V-A Estonia-Latvia Cross Border Cooperation Program (project identification number EST-LAT 128, Herbal Waters).

This article reflects the views of the author. The managing authority of the Interreg V-A Estonia – Latvia programme is not liable for how this information may be used. 

More about the project here.

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SIA “Field and Forest” in cooperation with Estonian household chemicals company “Mayeri Industries AS” introduces new innovative product – a water-soluble laundry detergent capsule containing organic essential oils.


Responding to the growing consumer demand on environmentally friendly products and services Latvian organic farming company SIA “Field and Forest” in cooperation with largest Estonian household chemicals company “Mayeri Industries AS” has developed new innovative product made from natural and locally sourced ingredients. It is a three-part laundry detergent capsule that contains of organic peppermint and pine needle essential oils. The capsules are now available in major retail chain stores in Estonia and Latvia.


During the process of product development, partner companies conducted market research, industrial research and product prototyping. As a part of the research, the most suitable medicinal and aromatic plant species were selected to meet the product and consumer expectations, protocols for the production of essential oils were developed, the chemical composition of the plants were analyzed and the research on technological aspects of the product manufacturing processes was implemented. To introduce the product to the wider audience, since November 2019, “Mayeri Industries AS” carries product promotion campaign via mass media and Latvian and Estonian retail chain stores. 


The development of the new product was co-funded by the Interreg V-A Estonia-Latvia Cross Border Cooperation Program (project number EST-LAT82). 


This article reflects the views of the author. The managing authority of the Interreg V-A Estonia – Latvia programme is not liable for how this information may be used. 


More about the project here.

About the companies 

Mayeri Industries is the largest manufacturer of washing and cleaning products in the Baltic States. The target market for their products is the Nordic region. They believe that the washing and cleaning products can be produced without affecting the natural environment negatively. Mayeri Industries AS has the biggest laundry washing product portfolio with EU Ecolabel in Europe. SIA “Field and Forest” is a certified organic farming company operating since 2005. It cultivates, harvests and processes organic crops, medicinal and aromatic plants. SIA “Field and Forest” is one of the largest organic chamomile growers and producers in the Eastern Europe. The company’s research activities are aimed at increasing genetic diversity of medicinal and aromatic plants, development of new plant cultivation methods and added-value products, as well as collection of traditional knowledge through ethnobotanical expeditions.

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Researchers from SIA “Field and Forest” and the Institute for Environmental Solutions continues to develop innovative solutions for growing and cultivation of ginseng and Chinese horseradish in Latvia. They just closed 2nd year of field research and are heading to develop new value-added tea products in cooperation with tea producer SIA “Bargi”.


Second season of field research on different growing conditions for ginseng and Chinese horseradish has concluded. As both plants are perennial, in 2019 the researchers continued to make observations of plants that were planted in the season of 2018. During the second season, researchers observed, measured and analysed effects of light intensity, meteorological conditions and soil conditions on the growth of ginseng Effects of different light intensity were measured by testing different types of shading, both natural (forest ecosystem) and artificial (artificial shading with specially made tent) within experimental sites. In order to find the most suitable conditions and cultivation technology for both plants, researchers tested different growing solutions. For example, ginseng was tested to be grown in experimental field and in forest ecosystem. During the current winter season, researchers do testing and analysis of meteorological conditions. In the upcoming Spring they will be able to analyse the effect by the winter weather conditions on each of the species. After the research on the best growing conditions, researchers in cooperation with tea producing experts will start to develop brand new value-added products.

Considering that ginseng and Chinese horseradish are perennial plants, only in year 2021, the researchers will be able to do quality assessment of the roots of the plants. In spite of that , researchers has already started to work together with leading tea production company in Latvia SIA “Bargi” to develop new products containing abovementioned herbs. To find new value-added product, SIA “Bargi” is testing different mixtures that includes ginseng and Chinese horse radish.

Innovative methods for cultivation of ginseng and Chinese horseradish will be developed as a part of the project “Developmend of innovative technologies for cultivation and food production of ginseng (Panax spp.) and Chinese horseradish (Angelica sinensis)” No.  17-00-A01620-000008, which is supported by EU European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, Rural Development Programme.

More about the project here.

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Team of researchers from the SIA “Field and forest” and Institute for Environmental Solutions (IES) started year 2020 with research on germination under different conditions for 9 wild spring medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) species, then developed new accelerated seed sprouting technology for each of them.

Seed germination research is an important step in development of innovative technologies for cultivation of 9 wild spring MAPs for organic farming needs, as well as with potential commercial use in pharmacy, cosmetic and food industries. To develop innovative cultivation technologies IES and SIA “Field and Forest” will cooperate with Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis.

Many wild MAP species that grow in Latvia hold a high market potential and different biological properties. These are species such as cowslip (Primula veris), woodruff (Galium odoratum), mezereon (Daphne mezereum), coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), pasqueflower (Pulsatilla pratensis), lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), ground-ivy (Glechoma hederacea), greater celandine (Chaledonium majus) and lady’s mantle (Alchemilla spp). Team of researcher has started evaluation of cultivation risks for each of 9 MAPs in order to find solutions for these risks.

In this research season researchers focus on germination of plant seeds to find the best sprouting solutions for each of selected MAPs. For development of improved accelerated seed sprouting technology researchers tested different environments – climate chambers and greenhouses. The results will indicate the most suitable environment for each of researched MAP. Seed quality is very important factor for yield production amount and quality. It contributes to high germination rate, promotes productive plant formation and helps to outgrow weed, as well as increases effectivity of nutrient use.

Since autumn 2019 scientists from Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis have been carrying chemical analysis of plant parts and seeds gathered in sampling expeditions during summer. The results of analyses will allow researchers to assess genetic resources of wild species that grow in Latvia and to evaluate the risks and solutions for their cultivation for commercial use.

The research is a part of the project “Innovative solutions for growing technologies and applications of spring medicinal and aromatic plants” (Nr. 1.1.1.1/18/A/043). It is supported by European Regional Development Fund, as a part of Measure 1.1.1.1 “Industry-Driven Research” of specific objective 1.1.1 “To increase the research and innovation capacity of scientific institutions of Latvia and their ability to attract external funding by investing in human resources and infrastructure”.

More about the project here.

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A team of leading researchers Dr Ilva Nakurte, Dr Arta Kronberga and Dr Andrea Primavera from SIA “Field and Forest” and Institute of Environmental Solutions (IES) were invited to present their conclusions on genetic diversity of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) during the “6th World Congress on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants” in Cyprus, November 2019.

The wild MAPs such as valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.), chamomile (Matricaria recutita), echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia), common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), and siler (Saposhnikovia divaricata) are known to have high concentration of active substances, and therefore they are already used in medicine, condiment, food and cosmetic industries. Since 2017, international team of researchers has been carrying innovative and holistic research on genetic diversity of above mentioned MAPs to find the most suitable herbs for growing and cultivation in Latvia’s climate conditions. In experimental garden located in Priekuļi municipality in Latvia, researchers measured and analysed MAPs’ genetic diversity, stability of yield morphological, biochemical and other parameters of these 5 abovementioned plants, grown in experimental garden located in Priekuļi municipality in Latvia.

To share their experience and scientific conclusions researchers presented two posters during the 6th World Congress on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants: “Biologically active substances of wild valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.) roots from different regions of Latvia” and “Growing Technology for Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale L.) Under Organic Croping System”. Presentation materials here.

Research “Genetic Diversity of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants” is in the last phase. Researchers currently carry out chemical analysis of 5 medicinal and aromatic plant samples to gather results. The last step in this research will be data analysis and selection of genotypes suitable for growing and cultivation in Latvia’s climate conditions, as well as development of innovative methodology for organic cultivation of high value MAPs.

The research is a part of the project “Growing genetic diversity of medicinal and aromatic plants” (Nr.1.1.1.1/16/A/307). It is supported by European Regional Development Fund, as a part of Measure 1.1.1.1 “Industry-Driven Research” of specific objective 1.1.1 “To increase the research and innovation capacity of scientific institutions of Latvia and their ability to attract external funding by investing in human resources and infrastructure”.

Find more about the project here.

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Agriculture experts and organic farming company SIA “Field and Forest” in cooperation with researchers from the Institute for Environmental Solutions, as well as Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis develop innovative technologies for organic farming of 9 wild spring medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) to test their potential of commercial use in medicine, cosmetics and food industries.

Blossoming woodruff. Image: IES

Emerging market trends show growing demand on commercially grown aromatic and medical plants. Nine wild species with high market potential and different biological properties grow in Latvia – cowslip (Primula veris), woodruff (Galium odoratum), mezereon (Daphne mezereum), coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), pasqueflower (Pulsatilla pratensis), lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), ground-ivy (Glechoma hederacea), greater celandine (Chaledonium majus) and lady’s mantle (Alchemilla spp). Team of researchers and organic farming experts explore selected MAPs under Latvia’s agroclimatic conditions regarding their potential in commercial growing for organic farming and characteristics of their active substances.

Lady’s mantle in experimental garden, Priekuļi municipality. Image: IES.

To develop innovative technologies for growing wild spring MAPs, during summer of 2019 researchers conducted a study of historical and existing knowledge of chosen plants by implementing ethnobotany expeditions. Researchers visited rural areas to conduct interviews with locals. While in Rūjiena county (Vilpulkas, Ipiķu, Jeru and Lode parish) researchers conducted 24 interviews, in Naukšēni county (Naukšēni and Ķoņi parish) they collected information from 14 interviews. Overall, during ethnobotany expeditions the researchers interviewed 38 respondents who were more than 40 years-old – 29 women and 9 men. The results revealed fresh and unexpected information about the traditional use of spring MAPs. For example, most of the respondents did were not familiar with woodruff and ground-ivy, but lady’s mantle turned out to be the most commonly used in these regions.

To evaluate genetic resources of Latvia’s local herbs, the researchers also carried out sampling expeditions to collect local genetic resources (plant seeds and herbal drugs).  Gathered seeds that can sprout in short period of time were planted into the experimental gardens in Priekuļu municipality. Seeds that takes longer to sprout will be tested in laboratory where new methodologies for accelerated sprouting will be developed. Afterwards, chemical analysis to estimate genetic resources of local plants will be conducted.

After the new methods for improving seed germination have been developed for each of 9 wild spring MAPs, the research will be ready to go into the next phase – evaluation of main risks for commercial growing of MAPs, as well as searching for alternatives to prevent the identified.

The research is a part of the project “Innovative solutions for growing technologies and applications of spring medicinal and aromatic plants” (Nr. 1.1.1.1/18/A/043). It is supported by European Regional Development Fund, as a part of Measure 1.1.1.1 “Industry-Driven Research” of specific objective 1.1.1 “To increase the research and innovation capacity of scientific institutions of Latvia and their ability to attract external funding by investing in human resources and infrastructure”.

More about the project here.

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Researchers from the SIA “Field and Forest” and Institute for Environmental Solutions are about to finish 3-year field research on 5 medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs), which has been carried out in the experimental garden located in Priekuļi municipality in Latvia.

This is the final season of the field work in experimental garden. It has been dedicated to research on 5 medicinal and aromatic plants – valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.), chamomile (Matricaria recutita), echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia), common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), and siler (Saposhnikovia divaricata), their morphological and biochemical parameters, genetic diversity, stability of yield and other parameters. As a result, the research team will select the genotypes of above mentioned plants that are the most suitable to Latvia’s climate conditions, as well as develop innovative methodology for organic cultivation of high value MAPs.

Root of valerian in experimental gardens in Priekuļi municipality. Image: SIA “Field and Forest”.

In September and October 2019, researchers continued the final field works campaign – tests on agro-technical parameters and sampling of genetic resources of valerian, common dandelion, echinacea and siler. Roots of the MAPs were gathered, weighted, dried and chemical parameters of them were analysed. Simultaneously with the fieldwork campaign, the researchers started the last phase of the research – analysis of the MAPs’ parameters to announce the most appropriate genotypes and organic production for Latvia’s climate and agro-technical conditions.  Then the team will select the MAPs that are the most suitable for diverse use in organic farming, pharma, food and cosmetics, and households.

Root of siler in experimental garden in Priekuļi municipality. Image: SIA “Field and Forest”.

According to the researchers, the first assessments highlights that local dandelions are suitable for commercial cultivation. Further, the researchers will analyse gathered data to determine which dandelion species are suited the most. Data results of local valerian species in commercial cultivation variates a lot. Therefore, to be able to make any conclusions, researchers need to fulfil careful analysis of gathered data. The analysis of other researched MAPs (siler, echinacea, camomile) will be carried out after the finishing final experimental field campaign. 

The research is a part of the project “Growing genetic diversity of medicinal and aromatic plants” (Nr.1.1.1.1/16/A/307). It is supported by European Regional Development Fund, as a part of Measure 1.1.1.1 “Industry-Driven Research” of specific objective 1.1.1 “To increase the research and innovation capacity of scientific institutions of Latvia and their ability to attract external funding by investing in human resources and infrastructure”.

Find more about the project here.

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In October 2019, Mayeri industries AS, the largest household chemicals company in Estonia, will introduce into the market an innovative product – a water-soluble laundry washing capsule containing organic essential oil. It has been developed in close cooperation with the Latvian organic farming company “Field and Forest” within the framework of Interreg V-A Estonia-Latvia cross-border cooperation program (project ID number EST-LAT82).

The new product is a three-part laundry washing capsule, which contains organic peppermint and pine needle essential oils. The product will be available in major retail chain stores in Estonia and Latvia, responding to the growing consumer demand for products made from natural and locally sourced ingredients.

During the development of the new product, partner companies have conducted market research, industrial research and product prototype development. During the research, the most suitable medicinal and aromatic plant species were selected, the protocols for the production of essential oils were developed, the chemical composition of the plants was analyzed, and technological aspects of the product manufacturing processes and packaging development possibilities were investigated.

In addition, employees of Field and Forest and Mayeri industries AS have taken part in joint trainings on the latest trends in the circular economy and bioeconomy and in workshops on the development of new bio-based products.

About the companies

Mayeri Industries is the largest manufacturer of washing and cleaning products in the Baltic States. The target market for our products is the Nordic region. We believe that the washing and cleaning products can be produced without affecting the natural environment negatively. Mayeri Industries AS has the biggest laundry washing product portfolio with EU Ecolabel in Europe.


SIA “Field and Forest” is a certified organic agriculture company operating since 2005. It cultivates, harvests and processes organic crops, medicinal and aromatic plants. SIA “Field and Forest” is one of the largest organic chamomile growers and producers in the Eastern Europe. The company’s research activities are aimed at increasing genetic diversity of medicinal and aromatic plants, development of new plant cultivation methods and added-value products, and collection of traditional knowledge through ethnobotanical expeditions.

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During Summer 2019, researchers from the Institute for Environmental Solutions and SIA “Field and Forest” are finalizing the field works and observations in experimental gardens of 5 medicinal and aromatic plants to continue the research in lab – analysing the gathered data and finding best growing methods and most suited genotypes for weather and soil conditions in Latvia.

Field of Valerian and it’s root in experimental gardens in Priekuļi municipality. Image: SIA “Field and Forest”.

Research in experimental gardens located in Priekuļi Municipality is dedicated to 5 medicinal and aromatic plans – valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.), chamomile (Matricaria recutita), echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia), common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), and siler (Saposhnikovia divaricata). In spite of a very hot and dry start of the final vegetation season, the weather conditions have not affected the vegetation process. Perennial plants – echinacea, valerian, common dandelion and siler keeps growing and developing successfully. Moreover, researchers have already carried out a first assessment of harvest development processes for siler and dandelion.

Siler in experimental garden in Priekuļi municipality. Image: SIA “Field and Forest”.

During the current season of the experimental gardens, the blooming shows a remarkable progress. While echinacea has blossomed for the first time during this research, seems like siler, which has not been previously studied in Latvia, will blossom as well.

Dandelion during vegetation period in experimental gardens, Priekuļi municipality. Image: SIA “Field and Forest”.

Students from Latvia University of Agriculture and University of Latvia are participating in this research process by doing additional assessments of the dandelions in experimental gardens. Līva Marta Roze who is studying in faculty of biology (University of Latvia) has developed a research paper “Development of descriptors for characterising morphological variability of morphological features of Taraxacum officinale Weber and characterisation of the diversity of local populations”. Faculty of agriculture student Jānis Gailītis continues to develop his bachelor’s thesis on the commercialized growing of dandelions in agro-climatic conditions of Latvia.

The research on 5 medicinal and aromatic plants started on March 2017. While the third season of experimental gardens in Priekuļi parish is still in progress, team of researchers are preparing of the last stage of the research – analysis of the most important MAPs parameters to announce the most appropriate genotypes and organic production of MAPs that are also the most suitable for biological agriculture farmers, organic farmers, pharma, food and cosmetics companies and households use in Latvia conditions.

The research is a part of the project “Growing genetic diversity of medicinal and aromatic plants” (Nr.1.1.1.1/16/A/307). It is supported by European Regional Development Fund, as a part of Measure 1.1.1.1 “Industry-Driven Research” of specific objective 1.1.1 “To increase the research and innovation capacity of scientific institutions of Latvia and their ability to attract external funding by investing in human resources and infrastructure”.

Find more about the project here.

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