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Rendering of VCIIP vision: the park has welcomed companies in areas from laser and photovoltaic technology to medicine and biopharma For Danas Tvarijonavičius, head of industrial


development at Roquette Amilina, Lithuania’s life sciences potential is “defined by well-developed infrastructures, universities and research centres, a growing industrial presence, significant foreign investments and national strategic direction”. Lithuania ranks as a cost-effective location


for the sector too. A benchmarking study of 25 EU countries estimates that it costs $870,550 per year to operate a life sciences R&D centre in Lithuania, according to investment destination comparison tool fDi Benchmark. This is far below the EU-average of $2.18m.


Innovation ecosystem A central feature of the country’s research land- scape is the EU-funded Life Sciences Center (LSC) at Vilnius University. Since opening in 2016, the 24,000 square metre teaching and research facility has become a hub for collaboration across biotechnology and molecular medicine. In September 2020, the LSC at Vilnius


University signed an agreement with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, estab- lishing a partnership for genome editing tech- nologies. Some €6m of EU investment will be allo- cated to a scientific laboratory based at the cen- tre, as it joins the European network of centres. Ms Romanovskienė says that the broader


research ecosystem in Vilnius is well developed, with clustering in the ‘Sunrise Valley’ neigh- bourhood of the city that includes open access R&D centres, 20,000 students, 5000 researchers and innovative businesses. “One of Vilnius’s strategic goals is to actively


develop our entire business ecosystem, which unites biomedical organisations and other high-value-added industries, creators and regu- lators,” she adds. Some 50 life sciences start-ups have settled


in the Vilnius ecosystem, where they collabo- rate with academic researchers and other like- minded innovative companies. For Giedrius Kalesnykas, the president and chief executive of


April/May 2021 www.fDiIntelligence.com


Experimentica, a company that offers scientific know-how and expertise in preclinical ocular drug development, this helps to create a vibrant and growing biotech community. “There is an excellent ecosystem for multi-


disciplinary projects involving life sciences, laser and optics sciences, biomedical engineer- ing and computer sciences,” he says. To cater for this, Vilnius City Innovation


Industrial Park (VCIIP) was established in 2018 for innovative companies to set up R&D and production facilities (see feature on page 81). Gediminas Pauliukevičius, the chief execu-


tive of Northtown Vilnius, which operates the industrial park, says that VCIIP has created favourable conditions for start-ups and foreign companies to collaborate and develop new solu- tions (see interview on page 80).


Incentives Lithuania also has a network of seven free eco- nomic zones (FEZs) that provide support ser- vices, infrastructure and incentives to prospec- tive investors. In 2017, US-based Hollister decided to invest €50m into a manufacturing plant in Kaunas FEZ, where it produces medical products for ostomy and continence care. Outside these zones, incentives include tax


exemptions of up to 20 years on projects that have capital expenditure above €30m and cre- ate 200 jobs or more, and three-times reduc- tions for R&D expenses. Gintas Kimtys, acting director of Mita, says


that, given the recent growth of the industry, Lithuania’s goal to become a regional leader in life sciences R&D and production is “ambitious, but rather realistic”, especially given improve- ments in its business environment and innova- tion landscape. “Life sciences are high on the political


agenda; therefore, we offer active support for R&D projects. Our high scientific potential has led to top-level research and the development of unique competitive products,” he concludes. ■


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