26 Jul 2017

The Lithuanian life sciences sector: the potential is there, but it needs help to grow

Opportunities to export services and products, joint projects with foreign partners, sharing of experience and learning from the leaders in the sector – that is what the path to success should be for the Lithuanian life sciences sector.

Two Enterprise Lithuania representatives – Donata Mauricaitė,  Head of Life Sciences Industry and Gytis Morkūnas, Director of Entrepreneurship Department – were convinced of this once again when they attended the BIO International Convention 2017 in San Diego, California.

“The aim of our trip was to showcase the Lithuanian life sciences sector, form a positive national economic image, and introduce Lithuanian companies that provide products and services to the life sciences sector (biotechnology, biomedicine, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, laser technologies, etc.) as well as educational institutions that are capable of providing research services to businesses. We were pleased that Mindaugas Sinkevičius, Minister of Economy also attended the BIO International Convention this year – the active participation of high-ranking officials is crucial for the presentation of Lithuania’s potential at international events,” said D. Mauricaitė.

The BIO International Convention 2017 was also a good opportunity to see how the life sciences sector is doing in other countries – what problems companies and scientists face and how these problems are addressed. One such opportunity was the international delegations session organised by the International Affairs Division of the BIO International Convention. During the session, foreign delegations shared their experiences on how life sciences are promoted in different countries and what the most effective measures are for this.

“The problems mentioned by other countries during the meeting – insufficient state funding, high competition, complicated procedures for the development of a product or service and its launch into the market – are also relevant to the development of the Lithuanian life sciences sector. All of the countries that attended the international session stressed the importance of the state in forming clusters or other life sciences communities and representing them abroad – strong clusters formed of enterprises, educational institutions and international companies would make it easier to position the potential of the countries,” said D. Mauricaitė.

According to D. Mauricaitė, the comments and suggestions made by other sector representatives on the creation of a common ecosystem should be reflected in further steps for developing the sector, both domestically and abroad.

“Lithuania can learn a lot from its colleagues in Germany, Belgium or even Luxembourg, where companies, institutions and universities in the life sciences are concentrated in one organisation. This helps to ensure high-quality representation of the sector both locally and internationally. I think that in the future, we might see changes like this in Lithuania as well,” she said.

At other meetings that took place during the event, discussions were held about opportunities for Lithuanian companies and universities to provide services, export products, and participate in joint projects managed by the European Commission, which are among the most relevant for representatives of this sector.

“This trip once again clearly demonstrated that Lithuanians have to participate in events like this, because it is the contacts that are made here that become cooperation agreements that open the export gateway for our life sciences sector. During the BIO International Convention 2017, Enterprise Lithuania representatives used the BIO One-on-One Partnering platform to arrange more than 20 individual meetings, and also met with numerous colleagues and potential partners by visiting their booths,” stated D. Mauricaitė.

Of particular success were the meetings with representatives of the German and French clusters with whom agreements on cooperation in the field of life sciences were signed; it is also important to mention the meetings with US life sciences representatives from the BIO International Convention and MassBIO, where possibilities were discussed for initiating joint projects and increasing awareness in the United States of Lithuanian science and business achievements.

According to D. Mauricaitė, another important goal for the trip to the US was to present the international Life Sciences Baltics 2018 forum (LSB2018) set to take place next September to the target audience attending the conference, as well as to establish contacts with potential LSB 2018 partners and American Lithuanians working in the life sciences sector who could contribute to the forum’s publicity. Already being held for the fourth time, this event has acted as a springboard for numerous representatives of the Lithuanian life sciences sector.

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