Research Directions at Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences
ViA research and research strategy is the reaction to the new challenges created by the transition
to knowledge society and globalisation.
ViA research long-term goal is to create and adapt new technologies of next generation knowledge society.
ViA research medium-term goal is to foster at the national and Vidzeme regional level the development of smart specialisation spheres and increase of productivity, doing research in the directions of actual social and technological challenges.
The common research direction of ViA is Digital Solutions for Social Challenges. At the beginning of 2017, the following sub-topics are being implemented in the field of research:

Smart technologies and eco-building in the national economy

The need for this research direction is determined by the regional demand, including the requirement of the specialists prepared by the study programme "Wooden Houses and Eco-building" implemented at ViA. The topicality of the construction of wooden buildings and energy efficiency aspects is internationally increasing, and the specific research direction, although currently defined as a research sub-field of a regional significance, has a high potential for future growth.

Cooperation partners:

  • Latvia University of Agriculture
  • Priekuļi Vocational School.

Virtual reality technologies and visualisation

The research direction focuses on the creation of new, innovative solutions and the further development of existing solutions in a range of sectors of the economy and society, including tourism, history, medicine, logistics, production, architecture, training, marketing, etc.

The Virtual Reality Technologies Laboratory of the Faculty of Engineering was established in 2009 in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute Virtual Reality Training and Development Center (Magdeburg, Germany) and the University of Agder (Kristiansand, Norway).

Using the latest ICT technologies in the world, a number of solutions have been created in these areas, and the formal endorsement of this research direction is a logical step to actualise research activities in the field of virtual reality, taking into account that their role in Latvia is rapidly growing.

Cooperation partners:

  • Salento University Augmented and Virtual Reality Laboratory (AVRLab)
  • University of La Laguna (ULL) E-Learning Center
  • Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences.

Industry cooperation partners:

  •     Overly
  •     AnatomyNext
  •     Orangelv
  •     Giraffe360
  •     Vividly
  •     360video.

Research team:

  • Dr.sc.ing., Associate professor and researcher Arnis Cīrulis (leader of the team);
  • Research Assistant – doctoral student at ViA Kristaps Brigmanis-Briģis,
  • Guest Assistants – master’s students Lauris Taube and Līga Rostoka.

E-learning management and technologies

The research direction focuses on the creation of new innovative solutions and the further development of existing solutions in the field of education, and the enhancement of the availability of innovative e-learning for the promotion of a knowledge-based economy in Latvia, which includes tourism, history, medicine, logistics, production, architecture, training, marketing and other sectors of the national economy.

The development of this research directions is a proactive response to the challenges of society and the goals set out in the policy guidelines of lifelong learning - to ensure access to lifelong learning for the population regardless of their age, gender, previous education, place of residence, income level, ethnicity, social status, functional impairment; to provide adults with a quality education offer that provides sustainable competences for work, civic participation, personality development, and promotes the development of a competitive knowledge economy based on high skills and a democratic society in Latvia.

Taking into account the topical challenges associated with the entry of digital technologies into the knowledge management ecosystem of society, it is necessary to increase the competence of the society in line with the long-term action direction of Latvia, which determines the availability of education and changes in the organization of the educational process, the school as a social networking centre, contextual education and the change of the teacher's profession, the use of e-schools and information technology and life-long learning.

In the framework of the projects "Development of Vidzeme Continuing Education Technology Centre" and "Lifelong Learning Development Guidelines 2016-2020 in Vidzeme Region, and the development of the prototype of the technological solution" a concept for continuing education and the guidelines for the development of education in Vidzeme region were developed, as well as a prototype of the technological solution was created using the latest ICT technologies.

Several solutions have been created, and research in e-learning management and technology has been carried out to update the development of digital solutions for various social challenges, since their significance in Latvia is rapidly growing.

Cooperation partners:

  1. Riga Technical University
  2. Latvia University of Agriculture
  3. University of Patras (Greece),  University of Akureyri (Iceland).

Industry cooperation partners:

  • SIVECO Romania SA (Romania)
  • ORT Innovation & Développement (France)
  • Redburn Solutions Ltd (UK).

Research team:

  • Dr.paed., Professor and researcher Sarma Cakula (leader of the team)
  • Dr.sc.ing., Docent and researcher Kaspars Osis
  • Guest Assistants- ViA master’s students.

Socio-technical systems modelling technologies

The research direction focuses on interdisciplinary research, which includes the assessment of engineering technology solutions in the social system and the evaluation of social research findings using simulation technology as well as company modelling methodologies.

The research direction includes the generation of new knowledge not only in the context of applied research, but also in the development of simulation technology itself, and it anticipates contributions and innovations in the sub-sector "Systems Analysis, Modelling and Design" of the Information Technology science sector, working on new solutions not only in the socio-technical systems modelling, but also in the design and assessment of the information technology ecosystem, which is currently a vast field of research in the European context.

The research direction has been developed since 2006, when the Institute of Socio-technical Systems Engineering was established in ViA.

A collaborative platform for assessing the sustainability of nature and buildings through simulation technology has been established in this research direction. It defines the following main research objectives:

  • modelling of adoption and sustainability of socio-technical systems
  • heterogeneous and distributed imitation modelling technologies
  • modelling the sustainability of energy efficiency of natural resources and buildings.

Cooperation partners:

ESME Sudria Egineering School (France)

  • Stockholm University (Sweden)
  • University of West Bohemia (Czech Republic)
  • Aalborg University (Denmark).

Research team:

  • Dr.sc.ing., Docent and researcher Ginta Majore (leader of the team).

Sustainable national economy and knowledge society

The development of the research direction is aimed at promoting the growth of the economy of Latvia (including in the regions, nature conservation areas), in the conditions of shrinking economy when development can take place by working more efficiently in one unit of time or by creating more expensive products and services for export.

In order to ensure the creation of smarter, more expensive products and services (in various sectors, especially highlighting our developments in tourism, art, transport, education, social services), an increase is required in human and social capital that can work and develop in the conditions of the 4th industrial revolution where new knowledge and skills that technology cannot provide are demanded.

At the same time, the 4th industrial revolution makes significant changes in the qualitative and quantitative demand for labour force. The creation and implementation of the social policy which strengthens the knowledge society, as well as the provision of appropriate education for different target groups plays an important role in providing the workforce.

The second way is the efficiency improvements in production and management processes that require an approach of systemic analysis and understanding of human behaviour. Work with these types of solutions requires interdisciplinary skills and knowledge that can be provided by a team of researchers consisting of both economists, management science, communication, history and political science researchers, and researchers in natural sciences and humanities.

In an open competition, the researchers working in this research direction acquired the right to develop a research report for the study of the international level problems in spatial development regarding the challenges of small and medium-sized cities, the potential for economic development, the impact on the overall territorial development on both Latvian and the European Union scale, as well as future development trends (Report during the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union), the assessment of the development of the Baltic Sea Region cities in 2005 and 2015 (Baltic Sea Region Secretariat), the results were used in the preparation of the contents of the publication "Development of Cities in the Baltic Sea Region" (2016).

The research team has been actively involved in the implementation of the national level projects in the National Research Program EKOSOC-LV, managing two sub-projects and working as a partner in three projects. The research direction has developed a good international cooperation, transferring the research results to studies through the Interreg Baltic Sea Region, Nordplus, ERASMUS + programmes and participating in consortiums for the preparation of research projects. The research results are used to provide the content of five Master's degree programs, as the researchers read separate study courses and supervise Master's theses in these programmes.

Cooperation partners: Pärnu College of Tartu University (Estonia), Saimaa University of Applied Sciences and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences (Finland), Kaunas University of Applied Sciences, Kaunas University of Technology, Klaipeda University (Lithuania), National Institute for Tourism and Hospitality Management in India (Centre for Excellence), etc. The team is working on expanding the international network in research in both Western Europe and other regions of the world where our knowledge and experience are competitive. A serious cooperation has been established with the public and private sectors, especially in Vidzeme region.

Research team:

  • Dr.oec., Professor, researcher Agita Liviņa (leader of the team)
  • Dr.oec., Professor, researcher Sarmīte Rozentāle
  • Dr.oec., Professor, researcher Maira Leščevica
  • Dr.art., Professor , researcher Janis Kalnačs
  • Dr.sc.pol., Associate professor, researcher Feliciana Rajevska
  • PhD, Docent, researcher Linda Veliverronen
  • Dr.phil., Researcher Beata Paškevica
  • Dr.geogr., Docent, researcher Andris Klepers
  • Mg.biol., Lecturer, doctoral student, researcher Juris Smaļinskis
  • Mg.sc.soc., Lecturer, research assistant Ilze Grīnfelde
  • Mg.sc.soc., Research assistant Anna Broka.

Guest researchers:

  • ViA students, alumni
  • Academic staff: Aigars Andersons, Iveta Druva-Druvaskalne, Jānis Bikše, Ligita Kūle, Katrīne Reima, Hanna Mihailova.

Communication ecosystem and technologies

The development of the research direction is a proactive response to the challenges of society. Taking into account the topical challenges associated with the entry of digital technologies into the communication ecosystem of society, there is a need for improving the competence of society in the fields of media literacy and strategic communication. The research team has been actively involved in the implementation of the national level projects (Media project, development of explanatory materials on history, including through digital platforms, etc.), as well as expanding an extensive cooperation at the international level.

Cooperation partners:

  • King's College London (United Kingdom)
  • University of Kiel (Germany)
  • University of Tartu (Estonia)
  • Kyiv Mohyla Academy (Ukraine);
  • active cooperation with a number of institutions in the field - NATO Strategic Communication Excellence Centre, EAST STRATCOM (EC, Brussels), Deutsche Welle (Germany), as well as several national media and expert organisations.   

At present, the research team has submitted several project applications at the national and international level, the research results are used to prepare the content of two master’s level international study programmes (Media Literacy and Strategic Communication) that will be launched in English in 2018, as well as to update the content of the existing study programmes (Governance and Communication, Media Studies and Journalism, Communication and Public Relations).

Research team:

  • Dr.comm., Docent, researcher Janis Buholcs (leader of the team)
  • Dr.hist., Docent, researcher Gatis Krūmiņš
  • Dr.hist., Researcher Jānis Šiliņš
  • Dr.phil., Researcher Agnese Dāvidsone
  • ViA students and industry experts are involved in applied research projects.