Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, Lithuania: The Importance of Collaboration within Health and Life Sciences in the Baltic Sea Region
Scientific research, both fundamental and applied is a major driving force behind our improved life standards.
Since 1975, Lithuanian biotech industry has developed rapidly and our country has advanced in this field recently. Lithuania is currently investing 400 million EUR into five research valleys with the goal of becoming one of the top high tech innovation centers in Europe. Research Council of Lithuania was reformed in 2009 and the competitive research funding increased from about 5 to over 60 million Litas per year. International peer review of the grant applications significantly increased competition between scientists, but allowed best of them to achieve more. We expect significant boosting of scientific results in the nearest future because most research projects funded by these grants have just started.
Lithuanian high-tech industry in the field of health and life sciences is relatively large compared to nearest neighbors – other two Baltic States. Largest companies such as Sicor Biotech and Fermentas were acquired by the large multinational corporations Teva and ThermoFisher Scientific, and most recently, Valeant Pharmaceuticals purchased the Sanitas Group. Numerous smaller companies in biotech and life science field have been established and are quickly growing. For example, Amilina, large exporter of starch is increasing its activities and investing in scientific research. Therefore, even despite the apparent fragmentation of the health and life science industry in Lithuania, the field players are growing significantly faster than other industries and are expected to make increasingly large part of Lithuanian GDP.
This year a significant change was fixed in the studies – for the first time in several decades the largest number of students chose medicine as their study field. Apparently, the domination of law and economics is decreasing and students are increasingly aware of the advantages of health and technical majors over humanities. The growing number of young talents will bring even more ideas, opportunities and start-ups, which are good news for the sector’s future as well. ScanBalt association plays a very important role in the field of life sciences in the region. Since its beginning around 2000, ScanBalt has been growing and its influence in Lithuania has been increasing. Numerous projects, both finished and ongoing, fostered collaboration between Western and Eastern side of the Baltic Sea. The region became the best practice example for Europe and other regional initiatives have started in the South. Collaboration efforts shown by both Western and Eastern partners have opened new opportunities to participate in joint projects, improved the quality of research projects, and helped integrate Lithuania and neighboring countries to the Baltic Sea Region.
The Baltic Sea Region Strategy is a natural outcome of these activities and it`s importance is steadily growing. The community, its networks, will to cooperate and find new partners from outside the region is perfectly illustrated by the first Life Science Baltics 2012 forum, which is organized on September the 12-14th in Vilnius, Lithuania.
More than 500 participants from all around the world are meeting in Vilnius to discover life sciences potential in 3 Baltic countries.
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are on the fast track of becoming Northern Europe’s Life Sciences Hub. There are more than 200 companies and numerous R&D centres working in the life sciences sector in all three Baltic countries, offering significant opportunities for researchers, companies and investors. Talent pool, strategical investments into the modern infrastructure and favorable environment for R&D and investments were proven by a great number of success stories and famous names of the multinationals, highlighting the vitality of the industry in the region.
A wish to expose the above potential of the life sciences and to put the Baltic region on the world’s life sciences map comes together with the strong will to learn, will to share and exchange the best practices, will to cooperate and innovate. Therefore, I am glad to see such a great combination of experts coming to this forum to share their experiences and their insights as well as to look for new cooperations. Starting with the Nobel prize winner prof. Ada Yonath, world-wide known scientists, innovators and researchers, doctors, students, start-ups, who gathers together with the CEOs of pharma and biotech companies, investors, representatives of Governments, European agencies, national regulatory bodies, International and national funds, venture capital funds, science and technology parks and other eminent experts, looking for new experiences, knowledge, new ideas.
It is my honor personally invite you to this first time event - the international conference, exhibition, visits to the leading companies, partnership event, start-up programme, student’s company and much more. Life Sciences Baltics 2012 is a new platform providing an excellent opportunity for exhibitors and visitors to meet major stakeholders in the industry and associated manufactures and service providers operating in the Baltic States.