Lithuania, another “start-up nation”

Lithuania is the most populous country of the three Baltic republics, with a population approaching 3 million, more than the addition of the inhabitants of its two neighbours.

However, we have known for several decades that a new parameter is upsetting the established order of the elements of state power. Their strength rested for centuries on the size of their population, the availability of raw materials and, ultimately, the right and the expertise to exploit them.

technological revolutions

This ” game-changer we know it well now, it’s about technology. What is its nature ? It mainly consists of and associates breakthroughs in knowledge, advances in electronics (software and hardware) and an important imagination factor.

Technology therefore makes it possible to substantially free oneself from the old attributes of growth and power. In the 21st century, the capacity for power and influence will therefore reside in knowledge. The choices and results obtained, for example, by South Korea and the United Arab Emirates speak for themselves. “Small States” by population can therefore, if they wish, find a place among the big ones.

It is precisely this direction of growth through technology that Lithuania has been striving to implement for many years, in order to improve the standard of living of its population. This choice of technology is the backbone of a model combining human investment and financial liberalization. In this project, it is necessary to integrate the important place given to training, from primary school to university-research.

This highly strategic technological option has enabled Lithuania to rank first, ahead of all other European countries, for the average GDP growth rate over the long period 2000-2020!

An additional particularity of the Lithuanian model, the country has decided to position itself in specific technological sectors.

These sectors are biotechnology, renewable energies, and liquefied natural gas (LNG). We immediately see how close they are to the priorities set by the French government in its 2030 guidelines.

Wouldn’t it therefore be particularly important and interesting for France to approach and work more closely with this dynamic and proactive Baltic republic?

The biotechnological priority

The Lithuanian government has pledged to generate 5% of the national GDP from the biotechnology sector. If it achieves this result, Lithuania would place itself by this proportion in its GDP on a par with Singapore, and would place itself as one of the leading countries in the sector.

In response to the investments made in the university/research couple, it was within the University of Vilnius that a team of biologists discovered how it was possible to use and organize enzymes in order to be able to intervene in a ultra-precise on double strands of DNA. This breakthrough has resulted in the creation of a start-up specializing in molecular nano-tools, opening up real opportunities for new advances in the intervention on the structure of DNA.

In the wake of Vilnius University, a growing and vibrant community of Lithuanian companies flourished. Another start-up that develops cell therapy solutions for cancer immunotherapy, tissue regeneration and the treatment of multiple sclerosis has emerged. This high-level R&D relies on specialists from university research. But the research ecosystem is not limited to the research/discovery couple, it is also a question of promoting the development of an industrial fabric capable of accessing the next stage, the creation of products and manufacturing. .

A network of free zones has therefore been set up, offering developed land and attractive tax incentives.

From clinical trials to artificial intelligence

Covid-19 has shown the need to develop our capacities to create, as quickly as possible, new generations of treatment on European territory. The need for clinical trials is growing exponentially. With a wealth of experience in this field, Lithuania now relies on new technologies to carry out “digitized” clinical trials or clinical trials involving medical devices.

Vilnius University Hospital, which employs more than 6,000 people, is currently conducting more than 230 interventional or observational clinical trials, from phase I to phase IV. Each year, its clinical research activities increase by 10 to 15%.

This objective of improving performance in the field of clinical trials also applies to patient examinations.

A start-up has developed a tool to facilitate the examination of cardiac ultrasounds thanks to artificial intelligence. The company received its CE mark this year. In 2023, the start-up will launch its first prospective clinical research as part of the European innovation support program, and this AI software will be usable by other hospital specialties, such as radiology.

LNG and renewable energies

Lithuania is the first country in Europe to have cut off the arrival of Russian oil and gas. History has taught Lithuanians to be careful with Russia, and therefore to be wary of too much dependence. It had therefore set up a very large floating regasification unit, anchored since 2014, 18 km from the coast.

There is therefore a real interest on their part to forge technological links with French entities, experts in this field. Currently, this terminal has a capacity of 3.75 billion m3. Depending on the scenarios envisaged, this could be increased to 5 billion or even 6.25 billion m3. Fruitful exchanges with operators of French port terminals are therefore to be expected.

In Lithuania, 27% of energy comes from renewable sources: solar and biomass in particular. Wind power is becoming a priority, and Vilnius is planning many projects, in particular a large wind farm in the Baltic Sea. The objective of this park is to produce approximately 25% of the electricity needed today in the country. We therefore also find in this area a strategic convergence with the French priorities of establishing several large offshore wind farms by 2030.

300 million euros of investment

All the creations of start-ups and Lithuanian unicorns are also the result of a proactive policy, accompanied by strong tax incentives. Since January 1, 2021, companies that invest more than 20 million euros (30 million euros in Vilnius) in capital expenditure and create more than 150 (200 in Vilnius) full-time jobs, benefit from a corporation tax at the rate of 0% for the first twenty years.

The number of start-ups created exceeds one thousand. Last year, investments directed towards these companies broke records with more than 300 million euros. France is currently Lithuania’s 11th largest trade and investment partner. There is a large space to grow our exchanges. Both parties must seize every opportunity.

It is therefore no coincidence that for her first official visit to France, the head of the Lithuanian government Ingrida Šimonytė is taking part in a Franco-Lithuanian economic forum organized by the Medef on October 11, where Bruno Le Maire is also expected.

For large French technology companies, and agile ETIs, many opportunities exist, whether informal partnerships, joint ventures or equity investments in start-ups. This is also the time for financial institutions, and equity funds venture capitalto look towards the Baltic.

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Gérard Vespierre, graduate of ISC Paris, Masters in Management, DEA in Finance, Dauphine PSL, founder of web media: