Life Sciences Centre in Lithuania provides exciting opportunities for students and researchers
Thanks to an EU-funded project, Vilnius University has been able to build a state-of-the-art centre for education and training in life sciences, together with advanced research in biochemistry and related fields. The Life Sciences Centre (LSC) provides world-class facilities for around 1 000 students including more than 110 PhD students, alongside some 200 PhD degree researchers. By actively promoting collaboration with industry and supporting new biotechnology companies, the LSC is also helping to drive the economic future of Lithuania and the whole Baltic region.
" The establishment of the Life Sciences Centre at Vilnius University has totally transformed the research landscape for life sciences in the whole Baltic Region. In particular, it has empowered the research community and provided a strong impulse for researchers to engage with important societal and economic challenges, to implement 'Open Science' culture and contribute to the well-being of citizens. "
Vilnius University is the oldest university in the Baltic states and one of the oldest in northern Europe, with a history that can be traced back to the 16th Century. The establishment of the Life Sciences Centre has enabled the university to position itself as a globally significant centre of learning and research in the 21st century.
The LSC, which officially opened in 2016, provides a new home for Vilnius University’s Faculty of Natural Sciences, together with two of Lithuania’s leading scientific research institutes: the Institute of Biochemistry and the Institute of Biotechnology.
The project to establish the LSC in Vilnius was launched in 2010 and work on the construction of a new building begun in 2013. The building was completed in December 2015 and the LSC was officially opened in March 2016. The project – including the building itself (with a total area of 24 000 m2) plus the purchasing of educational and scientific equipment – had a total budget of more than EUR 41 million.
The LSC provides state-of-the-art facilities for around 1 000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, including more than 110 PhD candidates. The Centre offers a wide range of programmes at bachelor, master and doctoral (PhD) levels in fields such as biochemistry, biophysics, biotechnology, ecology, genetics, microbiology and neurobiology.
The building complies with the highest standards of design and construction. It contains 24 lecture halls, 3 computer rooms, 10 teaching laboratories and 23 laboratories reserved for projects and research, as well as spaces suitable for individual studies.
The design of the building facilitates direct contact between students and researchers, with large windows between the corridors and scientiﬁc laboratories, so that students can see the important scientiﬁc research being carried out at LSC. Students are also given opportunities to join scientific teams and participate in research activities at a much earlier stage in their studies than would have been possible in the past.
In addition to its excellent teaching and research facilities, the LSC also houses a museum of zoology with an extensive collection that contains specimens of more than 70 000 species, including prehistoric animals from the Baltic region, and a herbarium where specimens of numerous plants, algae and fungi are carefully preserved.
Collaboration with industry
One very important part of the Life Sciences Centre is the ‘bio-incubator’, which provides wet-chemistry labs for a number of start-ups and small companies that are using the results of scientific research to develop new products. The presence of the bio-incubator also serves to inspire students and researchers, who are encouraged to find commercial applications for the techniques and technologies they have developed.
Vilnius University sees collaboration with industry as a way to provide students with valuable opportunities and experiences, and also as a source of income to support the expansion of research activities. A growing number of research and technology projects are being undertaken in partnership with industry, and various technologies developed and patented by research teams at the LSC are being licenced by private companies.
As part of its ongoing efforts to promote an ‘open science’ approach and serve as a meeting point for people from both academia and business, the LSC hosts international conferences where researchers share knowledge and exchange ideas with representatives of various biotech companies. Students are also encouraged and enabled to organise international conferences focusing on specific areas of research.
The establishment of the LSC in Vilnius is a flagship project of Lithuania’s National Programme for the Development of Studies, Scientiﬁc Research and Experimental (Social and Cultural) Development (2013-2020), which aims to support innovation and improve the country’s economic competitiveness.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “Establishment of Life Sciences Centre at Vilnius University” is EUR 41 075 805, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 37 757 019 through the “Economic Growth” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Research and development (R&D) for competitiveness and growth of the economy”.