Lithuania’s goal to substantially grow its life sciences sector rests on the creation of an enabling environment for domestic and foreign companies alike. Vilnius City Innovation Industrial Park (VCIIP) — established in August 2018 to provide a home for high-tech companies undertaking research and development (R&D) and production — aims to do just that.

“We want to bring businesses with high innovation potential and research centres together, and promote effective business and research co-operation in the development of competitive innovative products,” says Gediminas Pauliukevičius, chief executive of Northtown Vilnius, which operates the industrial park.

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“Our vision is for VCIIP to mobilise a strong core of expertise and collaboration in the life sciences. As a park operator, we want the best possible conditions for the creation, growth and co-operation of life sciences industry players,” he adds.

While 12 companies are already located or in the process of setting up in the park, Northtown Vilnius projects that its industrial park will host about 30 companies in the future, as it aims to foster collaboration and create a value chain in life sciences.

Incubator plans

As part of creating an enabling environment, Vilnius University Life Sciences Center will establish itself at VCIIP, helping to create a new incubator for young innovative companies.

“The incubator will focus on the growth of life science start-ups, modern molecular biology and bioinformatics laboratories,” explains Mr Pauliukevičius, adding that specialised research infrastructure and a conference centre will be installed to provide space for scientists to work, collaborate and exchange ideas.

Given its focus, the structure and modern research equipment in the incubator will be adapted to enable commercialisation in areas such as gene editing, protein engineering, epigenomics, immunological and protein-inhibitor technologies. Mr Pauliukevičius is excited about the prospect for VCIIP in this regard. “Researchers and start-ups carrying out activities in these areas are developing partnerships on a global scale,” he adds.

Establishment ease

A key part of Northtown Vilnius’s aim is to expedite the process of foreign investors settling next to the Lithuanian scientists and start-ups operating in the VCIIP facilities.

“The developed infrastructure and communications of the park allow shortening the time of establishment, and we provide investors with all kinds of consulting assistance to make the establishment process smooth and convenient,” says Mr Pauliukevičius.

Northtown Vilnius has more than 18 years of experience in the field of promoting entrepreneurship, business incubation and acceleration, and partnership between business and science. Mr Pauliukevičius explains that this experience, along with partnerships across Lithuania’s R&D landscape, will be key to prospective investors.

“In co-operation with the institutions forming the innovation system, also with Vilnius City Municipality and research centres, we are delving into the needs and expectations of investors by developing the infrastructure of a relatively young park,” he explains.

Once established in the park, companies can benefit from assistance in business, innovation and R&D development, alongside advice on finding new markets, partnerships and funding sources.

As Lithuania aims to grow its life sciences sector, spaces that enable R&D and foster collaboration between innovative start-ups and mature investors will be key. Mr Pauliukevičius believes the established infrastructure and plans for VCIIP will help it become a key location for life sciences where health challenges are solved.

“Innovation is all about collaboration and working with global partners,” he concludes.

In association with NorthTown Vilnius. Writing and editing were carried out independently by fDi Intelligence. This article first appeared in the April/May print edition of fDi Intelligence. View a digital edition of the magazine here.