According to the Lithuanian Biotechnology Association, the country’s biotech sector has experienced a growth of 87 per cent in 2020. The sector which employs 2,500 people, mainly in the capital of Vilnius generated almost €2B in revenue in response to the global health crises.
Life Sciences will, over the next decade become a huge contributor to many country’s economies and this is being shown by the rapid growth seen in Lithuania. Although the global sector has increased by 15 per cent, Lithuania’s biotech industry has far exceeded this with a growth of 87 per cent during the same period.
When most people think of Lithuania, tourism is one of the first things that pop into their minds. However, the country has much more than great places to stay and visit. Although the global pandemic was a huge negative for its tourism industry, other of its sectors are booming and one of them is the country’s biotechnology sector.
According to Tomas Andrejauskas, the President of the Lithuanian Biotechnology Association, the outbreak of COVID-19 has had little or no adverse effect on the country’s biotech sector. It was the exact opposite with many companies actually scaling up creating new products, testing kits, and even vaccine components.
The life sciences boom has turned Vilnius, the capital, into a biotech hub. Below we’re taking a look at some of the companies behind this rapid growth:
Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics, a U.S. biotech giant with a branch in Vilnius, have started massively producing the reagents for COVID-19 testing which has significantly fostered the company’s growth. In 2021 the company opened a new production building to increase the manufacture and supply of reagents to companies developing mRNA-based vaccines and therapies, including COVID-19 vaccines.
Northway Biotech is another company operating in Lithuania’s capital that has been named among the candidates for vaccine manufacturing.
The company, which has increased its profit by more than 30% in 2020, confirmed it could produce the active substance of vaccines in a year, at the earliest, but would need to cooperate with bottling companies. Northway Biotech has been the subject of huge national interest after announcing that its anti-coronavirus drug, created through collaboration with Swiss partners, is now undergoing clinical trials.
Significant steps towards creating pandemic solutions have also been undertaken by Vilnius-based company Imunodiagnostika UAB that have launched the first Lithuanian SARS-CoV-2 antibody test kit with antigen produced by Baltymas UAB.
Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius said, “Companies based in Vilnius have been taking the lead in seeking quality solutions for the current pandemic issues, and this proves our ecosystem is not only resilient but also capable of responding to global health emergencies.”
He added, “Biotech companies that have chosen the city for their operation also encourage further biotech sector’s expansion within the country.”
Life sciences is a strategic priority not only on a municipal level but the national level as well. While the biotechnology sector currently contributes around 2.5% to Lithuania’s gross domestic product (GDP), the government has a goal to double its size to 5% by 2030.