Enterprise Lithuania and the Lithuanian Biotechnology Association has announced that in 2020, the Lithuanian biotechnology sector grew by a record 87% and accounted for 2.5% of the Baltic nation’s GDP. Industry leaders gathering at the upcoming Life Sciences Baltics forum are now calling for more international collaborations, increased investment and ongoing government support to continue and sustain this impressive success story.
The record 2020 figure caps a ninefold increase in biotech revenue from over the last decade, putting Lithuania among the fastest-growing life sciences destinations both in Europe and globally. Its long-term aim is to reach 5% of GDP by 2030.
While Lithuania only has a population of 2.8 million, the life science sector is served by six universities offering study programs in biotech-related fields, and 2500 people working in the private biotech sector alone.
“During the pandemic, we were able to watch how local biotech companies can pivot to solving this global challenge. We have companies such as Northway Biotech collaborating with Swiss partners to produce Covid-19 medicine. Others are producing testing kits and vaccine components. This is one of the reasons why the sector managed to show such steep growth in the year when the overall economy had to pause”, said Tomas Andrejauskas, LBTA’s President.
Daina Kleponė, Head of Enterprise Lithuania, claims that other reasons for the rapid recent development of the sector include successful operations internationally and the desire to co-create global MedTech and pharmaceutical solutions. She said: “Lithuania has biotech success stories in the US, Germany, and the UK, where Lithuanian companies have developed gene editing, drug discovery and clinical trial solutions. Enterprise Lithuania also has a role in this. In 2012, we organised the first Life Sciences Baltics forum, which helped attract the most influential people from the sector. This year, we had to move the conference online and were initially unsure of how it would go, but the strong interest from the global biotech community has proven that the Baltics are very much on the radar currently”.
Commentators agree that Lithuania now has a window of opportunity to develop the sector further, building it on international cooperation and a symbiosis between academia and business.
“Lithuania’s national strategic direction of co-creation also matches the needs of the country’s biotechnology sector. In the last ten years, the value of our industrial biotechnology production increased 4.5 times faster than the EU’s average. To maintain stable growth, we need to be exceptional not only in our scientific achievements but also in close collaboration with industry leaders abroad”, added Kleponė.