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Cash in: the Life Sciences Center at Vilnius University will benefit from EU subsidies


Start-up growth The quality and ambition of Lithuania’s talent pool is evident in the country’s number of start- ups, including a well developed ecosystemof IT and fintech players. As of April 2020, the number of start-ups in


Lithuania had grown to 1032, overtaking its regional rivals Estonia (1017) and Latvia (352), according to StartupLithuania.Over the past five years, more than 60 of these are in the life sci- ences, including several companies choosing to locate in the Vilnius City Innovation Industrial Park (VCIIP), which was set up in 2018 to help fos- ter the growth of innovative companies in Lithuania (see feature on page 81). Dalia Celencevičiūtė, the head of life sciences


atnationaldevelopmentagencyInvest Lithuania, says the strong up-and-coming start-up ecosys- temindicates a sector driven by innovation. “[There is an] ambition to become the next


key hub for life sciences in Europe, particularly in cell and gene therapies,” she adds. For growing start-ups and research centres,


the availability of talent has been a factor in them setting up in the Baltic country. Povilas Kavaliauskas, the co-founder of the Institute of Infectious DiseasesandPathogenic Microbiology (IIDPM), was surprised to find such a density of highly talented people in Lithuania. “The ability to attract highly talented peo-


plewas one of the key aspects that allowed us to bring our research and expertise to Lithuania and successfully launch a new programme,” he adds.


For Petras Sabalya, the founder of Sanobiotec


R&D,a Lithuanianstart-up that develops cannab- inoid applications, interest among the younger


April/May 2021 www.fDiIntelligence.com


generations is feeding the talent pipeline. “The growing curiosity in life sciences creates


the always growing talent pool, which makes it easier for biotech companies, such as ours, to build a strong team that is passionate about the work they do,” he says.


Overcrowding a smallmarket Droplet Genomics, which is developing and commercialising droplet microfluidics technol- ogy to provide solutions for research applica- tions, has also found high quality research tal- ent in Lithuania, particularly given the hands- on lab work experience that students receive during their studies at local universities. Juozas Nainys, the chief executive of Droplet


Genomics, says the well-established life sciences sector provides “a possibility for talent exchange between different companies”, but fears of a tal- ent shortage in some areas as the start-up grows beyond its current teamof 19 people. “We expect that we may face hiring chal-


lenges and may need to look for talent for cer- tain positions abroad,” he adds. Authorities are also aware of the need for


even more start-up related infrastructure, such as accelerators and incubators that would help foster collaboration between academia and business even further. “This is one of our future plans,” says Ms Celencevičiūtė. Part of that infrastructure need is being


met by VCIIP. The industrial park will build a specialised life sciences incubator by the end of 2022, offering laboratory facilities, open-access R&D centres and a conference centre. Some 12 companies are already located or are planning to set up in the park.■


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