A bloodline for the university
Kristaps had meanwhile followed in his father’s footsteps. After a bachelor’s degree in law, he “understood what really interested” him and studied medicine at University of Latvia. As did his brother Martins, who is currently doing a residency in cardiac surgery at the university. Martins is also acting as chairman of the board of the chocolate pill company.
The fact that both sons of the cardiology professor went on to study at the same university is not that unusual, considering the University of Latvia is already one of the largest research and teaching universities in the country. It has about 15 100 students, representing 18% of the total market for higher education.
Now the university wants to increase net enrolment by 2 400 students by 2022, including a doubling of the number of international students. An increase in enrolments as well as stronger scientific activity and research outputs will also contribute to a projected fourfold increase in revenues for the university from knowledge transfer activities such as the cardio-chocolate invention. These are central to the university’s plan to build a brand new campus.
So when a team from the European Investment Bank flew over to have a closer look at the new campus project, they were presented—you guessed it—with a box of cardio-chocolate pills.
“What they are doing is really contributing to the future of higher education in Latvia, and on attracting more research and development to Latvia, which the country badly needs,” says the EIB’s loan officer for the public sector in the Baltics and Poland Jochen Von Kameke. “They are taking a fundamental step away from obsolete buildings scattered across Riga to a centralized, modern campus able to compete with Western European standards.”
The investment totals EUR 90 million, of which the EIB is providing a third. The loan is included in the Investment Plan for Europe portfolio, partially guaranteed by the European Commission, and should altogether contribute to better teaching and research facilities and a more efficient real estate management and better cost-effectiveness of the university. EIB provided the university with a 25 year loan – a length of time that the private sector would not have been able to provide, and without requiring a government guarantee.
Stars, Chinese, and nanowire switches
Chocolate is just one example of the university’s research potential. Researchers and professors at the University of Latvia have also been working on:
- nanomaterials and nanotechnologies
- quantum computing algorithms
- energy efficient pumps for melt aluminium;
- skin stem cells
- a Chinese - Latvian dictionary
- a catalogue of stars, and even found a new asteroid (Baldone)
- and more.
In the coming years Indriķis Muižnieks, rector of the University of Latvia, hopes to double total funding for science and increase the number of scientific staff by 20% in the natural and medical sciences and 10% in humanities and educational sciences. His plan includes attracting more students and the enrolment fees associated with them, as well as providing researchers at the university with more modern facilities so they can be better positioned to get research grants.
Kristaps Erglis, meanwhile, hopes the chocolate can also contribute. “I hope it will encourage people to study and to come up with innovative ideas,” he says.