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Labs of Latvia
/ 26 Aug, 2021
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Biomedicine companies reveal the benefits of building a business in Latvia

Professionals from the biomedical industry admit that Latvia has a strong history in life sciences. According to Invest In Latvia, nowadays a growing number of companies are commercializing and capitalizing on the local scientific talent base. The stories of these various companies reveal why Latvia has a welcoming environment for life sciences and biomedical commercialization.

MGI Latvia – the EU headquarters of the Chinese company
In 2019 Chinese company MGI opened a new research, development, and production center in Riga to create a Chinese-European life science innovation center.
In just over a year, MGI Latvia has grown from nine employees to over 50, reaching over 455% growth. They are currently sequencing an average of 2,000 full human genomes per week (an average lab might be able to sequence 100). As a result, they’ve become a strong local and international scientific and industrial research partner.
Latvia was chosen as MGI’s EU main branch through a combination of geography, cost-efficiency, and genetic sequencing background. By establishing itself in the EU, MGI can participate in a variety of European research programs. It is best suited for frequent communication between Europe and Asia. At the same time, the highly qualified workforce and reasonable salary bases mean that conducting this scale of operations can be done at a fraction of the cost compared to Western Europe.
According to MGI Business Development Manager Rolando H. Delgado, MGI’s existing collaboration with local partners – the Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre and various universities – has laid the foundation for the development of gene sequencing knowledge and capacity in Latvia. As a result, it was easier for MGI to come into a country that already had a background in the field.

Roche Latvia – incubating local scientific knowledge for the public good
In July 2020, the healthcare solution company Roche Latvia established Roche’s Innovation Incubator. The purpose of the incubator is to promote and support the development of new and innovative ideas, as well as research in specific areas of healthcare and the creation of products or services. After three months of developing an idea, the achievements are evaluated and a decision is made regarding further cooperation.
The first call for proposals focused on the processing and analysis of lung cancer morphology material with artificial intelligence. Latvian biotech company AIMuno was chosen to take part in Roche’s Innovation Incubator according to Labs of Latvia. The goal of the AIMuno is to create a biomarker that will utilize artificial intelligence to process a patient’s data and make predictions regarding the potential efficacy of immunotherapy in different groups of patients with a view to choosing further treatment.
Director and Purpose Lead of Roche Latvia Rauls Velins emphasizes that Latvia has a strong history in chemistry, with the Baltics’ leading pharmaceutical manufacturers being based in Latvia. Riga was an early manufacturing location for the healthcare company. After the fall of the Soviet Union and the re-establishment of Roche Latvia, the company has now regained its original building and has invested more than EUR 5M in refurbishing it into a state-of-the-art facility.

Biomaterial research field with a strong academic foundation
With various organizations and strong academic involvement, the biomaterial research field in Latvia is filled with highly qualified scientists and practitioners, ready to be harnessed for commercialization.
The Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis (LIOS) is a European-level player in the research and development of new medicine. Meanwhile, the Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre is the leading scientific institute in molecular biology and biomedicine in Latvia.
In addition, the Baltic Biomaterials Centre of Excellence (BBCE) has partnered up with Riga Technical University, LIOS, Riga Stradins University, and the Riga Stradins University Institute of Stomatology to develop new dental implants.

Startups growing out of a thriving biotech innovations ecosystem
Several home-grown startups are already taking advantage of the strong innovation ecosystem in Latvia.
Longensis, a startup based in Latvia and Hong Kong, offers a platform to biomedical organizations to reduce the length of clinical trials. Developed tools enable direct communication for safe data curation and compliant, consent-enabled biomedical data utilization for research. According to Labs of Latvia, the outcome is increased engagement and trust on the part of patients. Meanwhile, clinical sites and patient advocacy groups can put forward their patients and data reach for biomedical research.
Longensis was announced as the winner of the Fifty Founders Battle pitch competition at the TechChill conference. It has raised $1.2 million in its late seed round backed by a group of business angels led by Rustam Gilfanov according to Labs of Latvia. Last but not least, Labs of Latvia reports that Longensis is among the winners of the Fair Health Data Challenge hosted by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra.
Meanwhile, Exonicus has entered into a second contract with the United States Department of Defense to develop a mass casualty scenario for the virtual reality trauma simulator. Labs of Latvia reports that this is a tool that primarily helps military doctors, but also other healthcare professionals and nurses to acquire skills and maintain preparedness for difficult situations.
Because training usually happens in groups, during the pandemic Exonicus developed a software program that can deliver the same results while participants remain in remote locations according to Labs of Latvia.
What these startups have in common is that they are born out of a very specific environment – a combination of the ever-growing startup ecosystem, and the already strong academic and biomedical sphere.
With its historical roots in the biomedicine area, a scientific environment ripe for innovation, and an available, highly qualified scientific workforce, Latvia has great potential to continue to attract investment and cultivate ground-breaking medical solutions.

Source: labsoflatvia.com
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