Portal Delfi starts a series of articles "Latvija var!", which will be dedicated to Latvian entrepreneurs. They create a new product sheet and win not only the hearts of the customers in Latvia, but also export markets. The project supports the Bank DNB.
In a sense, a bioreactor can be compared to special greenhouses where all the necessary conditions for development of microorganisms — e.g., bacteria or algae. They apply to the production of food, pharmaceutics and many other fields. One of the potential customers in Serbia, plans to use bioreactors in mining.
The Chairman of the Board and owner of Biotehniskais centrs, Juris Vanags Juris Vanags sure that the main success is still ahead. This is confirmed received at the end of last year the Prize of export and innovation, as well as investor confidence. In October, the Fund ZGI Capital invested in the company 200 thousand euros. Director of the Rudolf lift chair explained the decision to that the company has the potential and ability to create new products. In Biotehniskais centrs work doctors, specialists and programmers are highly qualified 90% of turnover in 2016, the company exports brought.
"Foreign" yeast as a threat to reactor
Cultivation of microorganisms is a complex process, since the fluctuation of just one degree can significantly hinder the process. Then the specialists "biotechnical centre" has the ability to connect to the reactors customers online, to about the need to change incorrect settings. Another problem is the sterilization of bioreactors. If the "greenhouse" for microorganisms settle "alien", from the delicate process of biosynthesis would have to give.
Last year Biotehniskais centrs has won the third place in the competition "Prize of export and innovation" organized by the Latvian Agency of investments and development (in the category "Most innovative product"). One of the jury members at the competition were the Deputy rector of MOUTH for business and innovation Anton Kishchenko. According to him, the company has room to grow, but for a representative of the academic and scientific environment Biotehniskais centrs especially cute. Because it embodies the possibility of the use of science in entrepreneurship.
"In the reactor seems to be nothing difficult," says kyschenko, adding that Vanags with his team "has managed to successfully combine it with systems management and IT". This allows you to fine-tune the bioreactor to the needs of the customer.
Customer lure small orders
Vanags graduated from physical-mathematical faculty of the Riga Technical University (RTU). However, he decided that physics "is unlikely to come up with something new", so began researching, and soon the production of bioreactors. Now his company employs many young professionals, whom he met at the MOUTH while teaching a course on biotechnology.
Biotehniskais centrs was created in 1996, and at first there were only three people. Now he is on the street Dzerbenes near the Latvian State Institute of wood chemistry. The company employs 16 people. Initially, the company offered services to automate and produce in parallel laboratory reactors, but now the main direction of activity — manufacture of bioreactors.
The first pilot reactor engineers have created around 2002, and five years later received an offer to create a production for the Russian enterprises which previously used laboratory reactors Biotehniskais centrs. The plant was a big challenge as, according to Vanags, at the time, "we were not ready for this." But still the project took place, and in 2011 Russia received a larger order — I had to connect within a single system for multiple bioreactors. At this time, the Eastern neighbor of Latvia is the largest sales market "biotech center".
"For the year is one major project, one medium and about six-seven small," says Vanags. "Of course, it would be ideal if a year had two major projects and ten small," he said. Major projects are not only profitable financially. They create challenges that help the team "not to lose shape".
"Small reactors are like fishing rods that we fish for large customers. Profit from small reactors symbolic," explains Vanags its business strategy.
Kushchenko like the fact that the company managed to notice the demand for disposable reactors are made of synthetic materials: "The hardest disinfection. This is a complex and expensive process. However, it is required for reuse of the reactor." In the end, Biotehniskais centrs has started to offer single-use reactors.
The company's turnover in 2015 amounted to 1.2 million euros, profit was 13 000 euros, according to data of Lursoft. "In terms of turnover we are definitely going to grow, and in terms of the number of employees not so fast. If we have a team of 50 people, it's a completely different management. We delegate part of the work to other companies," says Vanags, emphasizing that the partners perform the work associated with the production and manufacturing, and the company engaged in industrial research, design, programming, and search engineering solutions. According to the Lursoft Vanags owns 99% stake in the company.
The largest reactor with magnetic drive in the world
"Biotech center" owns three patents. One of them is issued a special bioreactor with magnetic drive. "The maximum amount, where we have used the magnetic attraction, is 20 cubic meters. While it is the largest bioreactor in the world, which uses a magnetic drive," explains Vanags.
Still magnetic drive was used only in their projects but the company's goal is to sell patented technology to other manufacturers of biotechnical devices. "Thus we hope to reach the markets where under other circumstances we so easily would not get, in those countries where we see opportunities to break," says Vanags.
As pointed Vanags, break hard to the markets of those countries where there are local producers of biotechnological devices such as, India, Germany and the United States: "Geographically we are located between China and Germany, and the price we, too, between, but slightly closer to China." So customers who are looking for innovative solutions, but cannot afford the reactors produced by the United States or Germany, tend to choose Latvian products. One of the main competitors "bioengineering center", especially on tenders in Russia — South Korea.
One of the markets in which the company hopes to break in the near future, Latin America. However, the first step to gain market — acquisition of cooperation partners (representatives), often becomes a challenging task. "I plan to participate in one exhibition in Latin America, to evaluate, to understand the situation on the markets. It is seen that the demand for our devices is" — sets out Vanags plans for next year.
Discard what does not work
Answering the question, what were the key lessons of the enterprise in 20 years, Vanags stressed that it is important to believe in themselves and not be someone else's promises, and not be afraid to reject those activities that do not bring return: "If some direction is, and what-no, you just have to try to react. For example, previously we were dominated by automation and bioreactors did not go. Therefore, we have developed automation. We carried out the automation of many plants, and the demand began to decline. We have seen that services for automation export can not, therefore, began to develop bioreactors. This direction could be exported".
"I wish they moved to some industrial Park and upgraded its infrastructure. In the initial period it was not so important. However, the production capacity is limited," says Kischenko.
In the laboratory the prototype of the new reactor, to ponder the plans for further development of reactors magnetic drive and the conquest of various export markets. The user determined the main achievements are still ahead.
Comments on Lauris has Maziewski, Board member and Vice-President of DNB banka
"Typically, commercially successful innovations single source — a complete, detailed understanding of a process over many years. In this case, when one branch of production products has been studied thoroughly, has installed its needs and identified technical opportunities to meet these needs. In fact, innovation is a very conservative, slow process, the result of long and careful labor. To it leads to the General theory, and familiarity with unpredictable, immeasurable real world.
The innovation enables to earn good money provided that it helps to solve economically significant problem. In other words, the company is not just something to improve and invent, but also finds effective demand. In the case of Biotehniskais centrs Foundation was started in the Soviet years, a process that could be transferred to the new conditions. Unfortunately, in many other areas of knowledge of that era today can not be applied. Still, we can hope that we will gradually appear more and more adventurous people who all this time, nurtured their ideas, and have now created something suitable for Commerce. In the sector of production equipment we still have a few of those who have created amazing machines, and they often do not even know many colleagues in the industry".