Israel – a country that has transformed from the orange grower into a hi-tech country over the last forty years – should attract Lithuanian business with its wide possibilities, yet it is only the fortieth listed export direction according to the volume of trade. “CasZyme” and “Froceth” – two Lithuanian companies of life sciences – have visited Israel and hope that the contacts they have established in this country will develop into successful cooperation.
The value of Lithuanian products exported to Israel last year amounted to slightly more than EUR 42 million. The major share of exported products consists of pharmacy products (EUR 7.8 million worth export in 2016). Although Israel is the fourth largest market for Lithuanian pharmacy producers, other life science companies have only started making their path to this state. One of the ways to present oneself is Biomed, the premier international life science conference, annually organised in Israel. Enterprise Lithuania that promotes Lithuania’s life sciences sector on international level, has been annually organizing Lithuania’s companies visit to this conference since 2010.
The purpose of companies “Froceth” and “CasZyme”, which visited Tel-Aviv on May 13–19, was to meet as many potential partners as possible.
“Israel has a well-developed sector of biotechnologies with a vast number of companies operating in the fields ranging from manufacture of medicinal products to various services of scientific research. We have met companies of various types and we hope that the contacts we have established will gradually develop into long-term cooperation”, says Dr. Monika Kavaliauskė, CEO of “CasZyme” – a startup developing tools for CRISPR-Cas gene editing technology.
Agnė Vaitkevičienė, CEO of “Froceth” – a company manufacturing advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs) individually for each patient – claims that Lithuania may become a gate for Israel to European life sciences. “Israel manufactures products that ready for commercialisation in Europe. We have experience in production as well as commercialisation of ATMPs products, therefore, we may become Israel’s academic partners in Europe and help developing innovative products for cell therapy”, says Mrs. Vaitkevičienė.
“Froceth” has also established contacts with a world-class scientist Dr. Dalit Barkan, who heads the Haifa University laboratory and hopes to implement joint projects while developing cell immunotheraphy products in Lithuania.
Example for Lithuania
Israeli businessmen know that Lithuania has a strong sector of life sciences, and scientists and companies of biotechnologies comply with international standards. The idea to organise “Life Sciences Baltics” – the largest life sciences event in the Baltics and the fastest growing event of life sciences in the Baltic Sea region – emerged 8 years ago during a visit to Israel. Lithuanian and Israeli science and business cooperation has been gradually enhancing every year. An Israeli delegation of about 100 representatives are expected to visit “Life Sciences Baltics” this autumn as well.
In addition, Lithuanian entrepreneurs, including the field of life sciences, can participate in Israeli startup accelerators. “The Israeli system of startup acceleration is similar to the system existing in the USA. Lithuanian startups could use the possibility of being noticed by strong investors”, – Mrs. Vaitkevičienė notes.
“Israeli companies are very result-focused, they want to receive the key information in a prompt and accurate manner, yet the communication is very pleasant and respectful. They know Lithuania and they appreciate it”, says Dr. Monika Kavaliauskė. In her opinion, Lithuanian risk capital funds and private investors should first learn from Israel. “The Israeli system of startups demonstrates a high level of risk tolerance. It understands that the return on investments into biotechnologies is slower than in other sectors”, the CEO of “CasZyme” claims.