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Biotehniskais centrs as a representative of Latvian biotechnology sector

Biotehniskais centrs as a representative of Latvian biotechnology sector

Publish date: 2015-01-20

Latvian biotechnology sector is still “under construction”, however, recent years can be considered as fruitful and instil optimism about the future of the biotech market. In an interview with Juris Vanags, Managing Director of Biotehniskais centrs, he presents the company’s services and explains changes taking place on the native and more generally on eastern European biotechnology market.

Tags: biotechnology , latvia , market , Biotehniskais centrs , Juris Vanags

How did biotechnology sector in Latvia change during all these years when "Biotehniskais centrs" is on the market?

Juris Vanags: The development of biotechnological sector from one side proceeds gradually, but from another there appear new projects, which can make remarkable changes in the sector. For example, now under development is one biotechnological oriented factory for manufacturing of yeast proteins by using as substrate, the waste of dairy industry - lactose.    

What are the main services and products of the company?

Juris Vanags: The main products of our company are laboratory and pilot scale bioreactors. We offer these not only as separate products, but also as integrated lines of bioreactors and another equipment for manufacturing of substances based on biotechnological methods.

Do many companies from central Europe order your products? Or the majority of them is from western Europe? 

Juris Vanags: Our main customers are from Eastern and Central Europe. Usually we deliver our products to Western Europe through another engineering companies, not directly to end users.

What are the plans of the company for the nearest future? Will some new technologies be introduced?

Juris Vanags: We always continue our development politics - new product every year. We had developed in this year the prototype of bioreactor for algae cultivation. We are planning in 2015 to manage with development of bioreactor for stem cell cultivation. Of course we continue our activities in development and application of industrial projects, magnetic mixers and single used bioreactors. 

Are companies from central and eastern Europe competitive for their western counterparts?

Juris Vanags: How our experience shows, when we meet western companies in tenders, then we almost always win. The problem is that we not always can participate in tenders due to the different additional conditions (the variety  of delivered items, the lack of all certifications, the necessity of relative high self-investment in the project). 

Is there any recipe how to become an innovative enterprise and survive on the biotechnology market, which is strongly „dominated” by western European and US companies?

Juris Vanags: I suppose that here does not exist universal recipe, but for case of each company can be find the way how to be competitive even worldwide in certain niches. Firstly, it is necessary to recognize our advantages. I see that our different engineering costs are competitive. Due to this we have to make more attention to innovations. If the product or service include self-developed innovations, you can be more flexible both regarding solutions and price. Innovations will also help regarding competitiveness from the side of China, India and another Asian companies. Another way to be competitive is openness regarding cooperation, both regarding Western and Asian companies.
I see that essential disadvantage of Eastern and Central European companies is the lack of capital and accessibility to investments.  This is complicated problem, which companies alone cannot solve. My mind to accelerate the development  of this problem is necessary more tightly cooperation between corresponding organizations of Eastern and Central Europe to make the influence to our governments in more effective way.      

How would you evaluate the level of biotechnology development in Latvia?

Juris Vanags: I evaluate that now the development of biotechnology in Latvia is still lower as they can be. However, in the last time regard this, there are coming good news. It is interesting that from essentially different directions. In this regards  I would like to mention the developments and applications  regarding industrial biotechnology and stem cell cultures.  

by Maciej Smolarz

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