The Vilnius City Innovation Industrial Park (VCIIP) is refining its recipe for collaboration between business and science. Set across 24 hectares in an area located 30 minutes’ drive from the Old Town of Lithuania’s capital, VCIIP has developed an ecosystem for the formation and growth of innovation-focused businesses.
“We have practically everything,” says Gediminas Pauliukevičius, the CEO of Northtown Vilnius, the operator of the industrial park (see interview on page 80). “[VCIIP is] a territory with fully developed infrastructure and communications, surrounded by pine forests, not far from the centre of Vilnius.”
Since beginning operations in August 2018, some 12 companies have either settled or are beginning to set up at VCIIP, covering areas ranging from laser and photovoltaic technology to medicine and biopharmaceuticals.
In the case of Droplet Genomics, a start-up that develops and commercialises droplet microfluidics technology-based solutions for research applications, the environment at VCIIP is well suited for its research and development (R&D).
“The VCIIP management team is highly oriented to life sciences sector growth and has put significant effort into accommodating our requirements and helping us grow,” says Juozas Nainys, the CEO of Droplet Genomics, which raised a seed funding round of €1m in January 2021.
By the end of 2022, a specialised 4000-square metre life sciences incubator will be built at VCIIP in collaboration with the Vilnius University Life Sciences Center, offering laboratory facilities optimised for work with microorganisms, viruses and bacteria. The incubator will work alongside the existing digital innovation hub at the park, providing business advice and other services.
Mentorship and collaboration
Povilas Kavaliauskas, co-founder of the Institute of Infectious Diseases and Pathogenic Microbiology, which is set to establish itself at VCIIP, finds the environment ideal for younger start-ups.
“Even though there are several incubators across the region, VCIIP provided a good resource, wet lab space and various mentorship and support programmes that are needed for young companies to navigate this often complex field,” he says.
Petras Sabalys, CEO of biotech start-up Sanobiotec, agrees.
“[VCIIP] is a future centre of activity for the biotechnology sector. The cluster of various companies creates a space for co-operation and collaboration, and inspires us to look for new approaches and methods,” he says.
Sanobiotec, which is developing cannabinoid applications for both the wellness and pharmaceutical industries, has active commercial activities in 16 countries and has recently begun a Series A funding round.
Mr Sabalys says the financing will be used “to monetise the company’s extensive product portfolio in the key markets, further validate its products, expand the R&D operations and increase the production capacity”.
Some companies joining VCIIP have developed solutions in response to the pandemic. Imunodiagnostika, a start-up founded in 2013 that develops new systems for in-vitro diagnostics of allergies, created Lithuania’s first Covid-19 antibody test.
Imunodiagnostika director Gintautus Gylys says the company is preparing to scale manufacturing of its Covid-19 diagnostic test from the lab to large-scale production. The company plans to set up a factory and laboratory to develop new products at VCIIP by 2022, a move which Mr Gylys sees as the next step in their development.
“This will help to grow the company’s scientific and innovative potential in the future,” he says.
As the Lithuanian government proceeds with its strategy to increase life sciences’ contribution to gross domestic product from 2% to 5% by 2030, VCIIP is hoping to attract more companies to create a value chain from R&D all the way to production.
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.