The advancement of the life sciences industry in the three Baltic states has been considerable in the past few years. Currently there are in excess of 200 companies in this sector in the three countries. Over and above the companies there are also numerous research and development centers in the field all over the region.
Of the three Baltic countries, Lithuania has achieved the most development in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. The average growth of this sector has been 22% annually. This has translated to increased production of pharmaceutical and biotechnology related products. 80% of these products are produced for the export market.
One of the greatest contributor of Lithuania’s success in this industry is the education system. The government and the private sector have invested heavily in the development of competent individuals for the purpose of advancing research and development. As a result of these efforts, Lithuania has 18,000 researchers and other specialists. Of the 200 companies in the Baltic 100 of them are in Lithuania. With the growth trajectory taken by this industry. Lithuania is on course to become the leading center of innovation in Europe.
History of Life Sciences in Lithuania
Biotechnology in Lithuania began in 1975 when a National Institute of Enzymology was established. This institute grew to become a leading center for fermentation research. Over time, this industry became a leading center for gene engineering and the practical application of gene engineering. This was in 1983. The industry’s focus on biotechnology began in 1992 after the fall of the Soviet Union, then the institute was renamed to Institute of Biotechnology.
Core Competencies of Lithuanian Biotechnology Sector
Lithuanian industry Enzymes and reagents for use in molecular biology. This emphasis on enzymes is in line with the history of Lithuania’s biotechnology industry which started as a research center for enzymes. This area of competence is normally referred to as red biotechnology. The reagents and enzymes developed in this way can also be used in recombinant pharmaceutical proteins.
Besides the red biotechnology, Lithuania is also increasing in the area of green biotechnology. This type of biotechnology has been heralded by a subsidiary of the Institute of Biotechnology known as Biocetras. This subsidiary has grown to become one of the leading biotechnology Small and Medium Enterprises in Europe.
Economic Value to the Country
For the period between 2005 and 2011, Lithuanian origin life science products grew by over 16%. This is an indication of the growing demand of these products all over the world. in the same year, 2011, the industry grossed over 211 million Euros. This translates to 2.1% of Lithuania’s total exports.
Most of these products were sold in other countries in the European Union. The leading importers of these products include Sweden, which imports 21.1%. This translated to 58.3 million Euros. Germany imported 30.2 million Euro worth of products in percentage, this is 10.9%. Other importers include Italy, Denmark, Russia, Norway, Poland, France and Latvia.
Latvia has 50 institutions in the life sciences industries. This industry produces 9.4% of the country’s GDP and about 10% of the country’s national exports. The pharmaceutical industry in Latvia dominates the life science sub-sector with 33% of the pharmaceutical industry. Estonia is the second largest after Latvia, it has 150 companies and other institutions in the life sciences field.