First Open Health Data for Startups Pilot Launches in Lithuania to Accelerate Life Sciences Innovation
The first open call for the secondary use of health data was launched in Lithuania yesterday, simplifying the startups’ access to vital datasets that would help train innovative medical AI models and create other innovative biotech solutions based on real-world evidence, while unlocking breakthroughs in patient care. The pilot was announced at the early-stage life sciences demo day by Baltic Sandbox Ventures, where 20 teams, half led by distinguished Lithuanian scientists and medical professionals, also presented innovations rooted in their clinical practice and research.
Health Data Pilot to Accelerate Life Sciences Innovation
Spearheaded by the EIT Health Lithuania Hub, coordinated in part by the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (LSMU), the pilot will be run in cooperation with the The Hospital of LSMU Kaunas Clinics, LSMU Kaunas Hospital and Vilnius University Santara Clinics’ Biobank as medical partners. The initiative is supported by public sector partners – the State Data and Innovation Agencies, along with legal support from Ellex, and expert backing from the early-stage Venture Capital fund specializing in deep-tech and life sciences, Baltic Sandbox Ventures.
Explaining the significance of this initiative, LSMU Health Innovation Manager Inga Kanapeckienė states: “As the EIT Health Lithuania Hub, we have actively engaged with various stakeholders over the past two years, emphasizing the significance of harnessing secondary use of health data to advance data-driven innovations within the health sector, research, healthcare management, and related fields. It is evident that while the debate surrounding this topic continues, Lithuania currently lags behind other European nations in the proactive utilization of secondary use of health data for innovation.To bridge this gap, we are launching a pilot project aimed at facilitating the secondary use of health data for early-stage startups. This initiative is designed to foster a more active and efficient utilization of data, ultimately benefiting both innovation and evidence-based scientific research within our region.”
Dominykas Milašius, Venture Partner at Baltic Sandbox Ventures stated: “We’re privileged to back this pilot. It is a result of a growing alignment within the Lithuanian life sciences industry to accelerate life sciences innovation on an ecosystemic level. By streamlining data access, we empower entrepreneurs to navigate regulatory pathways and expedite medical breakthroughs, ultimately transforming patient care. Our fund’s involvement – support with product, IP and business strategy, coupled with potential investment – will also help maximize the selected innovation’s impact on the knowledge economy as a whole.“
The Vice-Minister of Economy and Innovation Erika Kuročkina states: “Life sciences and health technologies – and the speed of their development process – are greatly influenced by the use of data that are needed for training algorithms and prototyping biotech solutions. Lithuania must keep up with other European countries on this path of data openness, in order to further promote exponential growth in innovation in health and life sciences. The first step is to understand where the demand for open data is greatest, which is why this pilot program is extremely relevant and timely. We’ve already achieved a lot, so we need a practical evaluation of what works, what doesn’t, and what the necessary changes are.”
According to Olegas Niakšu, the Vice-Minister of Health: “This pilot project is significant because of its practical aspect. Thanks to it, we will be able to assess the state of cooperation in the field of data, practically delving into the possible barriers preventing the opening of data and limiting the cooperation of science and health innovators. Then we will be able to create a strategy for overcoming them, while simultaneously solving the most relevant problems for science and the marke
Jekaterina Kalinienė, the head of the “Biotech Lab” within the Innovation Agency, notes: “Thanks to our close engagement with innovative SMEs and having prepared a roadmap for life sciences development in Lithuania, we understand about the need for data openness. Together with the Lithuanian ecosystem, we are developing a “sandbox” concept that would allow SMEs to test the solutions they are developing in a safe environment. Therefore, this pilot health data program is in line with our strategic direction to practically promote innovations in life sciences, and lays the foundations for the development of a further simplified system.”
The startups are now able to pitch their cases for enabling medical data on datapilot.lt until February 19. Then, an interdisciplinary expert committee will evaluate the best cases, and create a roadmap for at least one solution, supporting the pilot testing and longer-term go-to-market strategy.
MORE SCIENTISTS AND MEDICS TEST THE PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF THEIR INNOVATIONS
Yesterday’s event also presented the graduates of Baltic Sandbox Ventures 4th incubation program, ran for two months in tandem with Vilnius University Life Sciences Center, Faculty of Medicine and Santaros Clinics. The cohort, comprising 70 incubatees from diverse backgrounds, featured prominent medical professionals and researchers, working on ideas ranging from pioneering immunotherapies to AI-driven diagnostic tools. The projects underscored the transformative potential of interdisciplinary collaboration in healthcare.
“The demo day showcased the synergy between scientific rigour and entrepreneurship,” highlighted Sandra Golbreich, General Partner of Baltic Sandbox Ventures. “With 10% of participants being medical doctors and 30% academic researchers, more than half of the incubatees utilized their own research and clinical insights to build and test business cases. Our curriculum focused on hypothesis testing, Intellectual Property protection, business strategy, financials and fundraising. We’re proud to see some of the most prominent scientists and doctors bravely embracing new roles as entrepreneurs and will seek to support the best with the follow-on acceleration program and a pre-seed investment.”
The cohort also includes significant interdisciplinary collaborations. A European molecular biology laboratory lead and the head of a clinical biobank partner on a pioneering immunotherapy approach; a serial entrepreneur and a vice-dean ideate a novel medtech device; a cardiac surgeon and a serial entrepreneur develop a new-gen AI diagnostic tool; while another serial entrepreneur supports a geneticist on a quest to develop new longevity solutions.
Prof. Daumantas Matulis, director of the Vilnius University Life Sciences Center, asks: “Why did we gather at the Life Sciences Center? Life sciences study our bodies, health and nutrition. The body undergoes many chemical reactions that can be replicated in test tubes. This helps scientists, including those working at this center, to study disease-causing mechanisms and develop drugs. This process includes basic science, treatment discovery, patenting, commercialization, and clinical application. The ultimate goal is to cure critically ill patients using the developed technologies. This is a major goal of the life sciences and biotechnology industries. An ecosystem of science and business is essential to support every stage of innovation.”
Prof. Tomas Jovaiša, Deputy Director of Inpatient Services at Santaras Clinics of Vilnius University Hospital, says: “If you compare the innovations I see in the hospital today with the technologies we used when I first started my medical career, it’s like a leap from the steam engine to the cars we drive today. Medical doctors experimenting in their garages led us to inventions like computerized tomography. I am sure that during this program the innovators of our community learned how to lead their ideas towards realization; after this program, you can take them even further. I wish you the best of luck on this journey.”
According to Prof. Dalius Jatužis, dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Vilnius University: “Innovation requires not only knowledge, but also inspiration, flexibility, and the ability to cooperate. When creating innovations, one has to face a number of technical and legal barriers, and in science, it is not always possible to find answers immediately. Still, the first steps are a critical achievement. I thus want to congratulate all the participants – I believe that there will be more than one great achievement in your future”.