How Lithuania aims to become a leading European biotech hub
The Baltic nation set itself a target of the life sciences being responsible for 5% of its GDP by 2030, which represented a potential five-fold increase at the time of the announcement in 2021.
Ahead of the BIO International Conference, Innovation Agency Lithuania, the country’s organization representing various business sectors, noted that the country is keen to strengthen its links to business in the US, which represented 28% of its life sciences exports in 2021. Recently, Northway Biotech, a Lithuanian contract development and manufacturing organization, consolidated this growing relationship by creating a manufacturing facility in Boston, US.
Rasa Uždavinytė, director of international trade development at Innovation Agency Lithuania, told BioPharma-Reporter, “Lithuania’s biotechnology sector has been steadily growing with a rate of 33% over the last several years. There are 26 research and development centers in the country including six dedicated to life sciences. Furthermore, there are seven universities and seven colleges that offer studies in the life sciences field.”
The country’s focus on the sciences has paid off in the number of students who are choosing to pursue STEM subjects, with 25% of students choosing to study such academic disciplines. In another bonus for the country, given the overall greater push for inclusion and diversity across the industry, 58% of researchers in Lithuania are women.
In terms of what Innovation Agency Lithuania itself is tasked to do, Uždavinytė explained how it aims to be an entry point for foreign businesses to connect with partners in Lithuania and provide financial support to ‘innovative projects’ of all types of organizations.
Connecting to partners
One of the agency’s tasks at BIO is to aid Lithuanian companies to connect with partners, and the country has a contingent of eight life sciences companies attending the event, one of which is Biomapas, a contract research organization (CRO).
Biomapas specializes in working with biological product developers, providing regulatory, clinical and pharmacovigilance services. Its services can progress assets from the preclinical stage through to final Phase III trials.
When asked for more details about the company’s work, Regina Auškalnienė, chief global clinical research officer at Biomapas, said, “Our clinical research team focuses on early phase clinical trials' delivery, thus linking the drug developer, the investigation's site, and the patients. We also own a specialized early phase clinical trial site called BIO1, which is located inside a large university hospital with access to all required knowledge and technology to identify patients suitable to participate in clinical trials and ensure patients' safety.”
Auškalnienė added that the company’s location within Lithuania holds an advantage, as it is known as a ‘high recruiting area.’