The European Investment Bank (EIB) is to provide a 10-year loan facility of Euro 150 million to the Swedish medical technology and healthcare company Gambro to support its medical technology Research & Development (R&D) expenditure. The EIB loan, consistent with the EIB's Innovation 2000 Initiative (i2i), will also be used to increase Gambro's dialysis products manufacturing capacity in Lund (Sweden), Hechingen (Germany) and in Meyzieu (France).
Gambro, the world's second-largest provider of haemo-dialysis products and services, directs a majority of its R&D efforts towards dialysis R&D. Dialysis is a process essentially replacing the blood filtration functions of kidneys. It is a treatment offered to patients with acute or chronic renal failure. The key technology in haemodialysis is the membrane across which the filtration takes place. Synthetic (man-made) haemodialysis membranes are becoming increasingly popular compared to membranes from cellulose (a natural fibre). The project for which EIB offers support, aims at achieving economies of scale in the production of these membranes.
Commenting on the loan, EIB Vice-President Mr Nowotny said: "The technological dimension of the project is fully in line with the recommendations of the Lisbon European Council and the Bank's Innovations 2000 Initiative. The human capital and health aspects of the project will also contribute positively to EU competitiveness, consistent with the aim of making the EU a competitive, knowledge based society", he added.
The AAA-rated European Investment Bank (EIB), the financial arm of the European Union, contributes by means of its long-term loans towards the integration and balanced development of its Member States as well as in countries outside the Union.
In response to the guidelines mapped out by the Heads of State or Government in Lisbon on 23 and 24 March 2000 with a view to building a European knowledge-based, innovation-driven economy, the EIB Group started its "Innovation 2000 Initiative", a dedicated EUR 12 to 15 billion programme of medium and long-term loans of which over EUR 8 billion has been approved up till now.
Rather than increasing the volume of lending, the "Innovation 2000 Initiative" will mark a qualitative shift of emphasis in the activities of the EIB Group towards cutting-edge, high-tech value added sectors.
"i2i" focuses on five objectives:
- the development of SMEs and entrepreneurship, in particular by expanding venture capital activities encouraging the development of innovative SMEs within the Union. Such operations are the province of the European Investment Fund (EIF), the EIB Group's specialist venture capital arm;
- the dissemination of innovation, by financing projects of all sizes, undertaken by both public authorities and private enterprise, with the aim of propagating and deploying innovation and building up the skills needed to apply the new technologies;
- research and development, by supporting public or private research programmes, especially those bringing together private enterprise and public bodies, promotion of research infrastructure, Centres of Excellence and structures facilitating SMEs' access to research programmes;
- information and communications technology networks, by financing trans-European multimedia and broadband networks, as well as physical or virtual infrastructure providing local access to those networks, notably in the less developed regions of the Union;
- human capital formation, by modernising and increasing computerisation in schools, colleges and universities and through loans for IT training centres.