The project targeted by this EIB loan focuses on construction of 23 500 square metres of new laboratories and office space for start-up companies in the biopharmaceuticals and biotechnology sectors. The new buildings will increase the available floor area in the Heidelberg Technology Park from 10 500 to around 35 000 square metres.

The EIB funds are being advanced on very favourable terms through the intermediary of the Landesbank Baden-Württemberg and Sparkasse Heidelberg.

Heidelberg is one of Europe's leading centres of excellence for biopharmaceutical and biotechnology research and development. Owing to the first-rate science base in the Rhine-Neckar Triangle (Universities of Heidelberg, Mannheim and Kaiserslautern, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, German Cancer Research Centre, Max Planck Institutes for Medical Research and Cell Biology and the Centre for Green Gene Technology), a large number of companies have set up in the region over recent years, contributing to the improved and above all speedier transformation of high-calibre research results into new marketable products.

The Heidelberg Technology Park provides fledgling life sciences companies with laboratory and office space as well as conference facilities and other services. Technologiepark Heidelberg GmbH maintains close links with national and international research institutes, other technology parks devoted to life sciences, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

By financing the expansion of research infrastructure in Heidelberg, the EIB is furthering the EU objective, set by the Lisbon European Council in 2000, of stepping up research and innovation in Europe and establishing a leading international position in the technology field, so promoting the competitiveness of the European economy and creating new jobs.

To attain this objective, capital must be channelled into top-quality research centres, as bringing together scientists in a given field fosters the exchange of experience and the development of scientific networks, while attracting companies seeking to exploit commercially the results of research work.

Extension of the Heidelberg Technology Park will further consolidate the Rhine-Neckar Triangle's status as a centre of excellence for life sciences. Last year, the EIB already provided a EUR 82 million loan for expanding Heidelberg University Clinic for Internal Medicine. Likewise, the European Investment Fund (EIF), the EIB's specialist venture capital subsidiary, has acquired a stake in the Heidelberg Innovation Venture Capital Fund, which supports business start-ups in the life sciences field, while the European Commission has co-financed a series of research projects undertaken by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.

Based in Luxembourg, the European Investment Bank is the European Union's financing institution. It is mandated to underpin the Union's policy objectives by financing appropriate and economically viable capital investment. One of its priority tasks is to promote research and innovative activity with a view to sharpening the European economy's competitive edge. Others include fostering regional development, environmental protection and the economic integration of the Central and Eastern European Countries into the EU. Last year, aggregate EIB lending ran to some EUR 37 billion, with Germany attracting around EUR 6 billion.