The European Investment Bank (EIB), the long-term financing arm of the European Union (EU), announces a loan of EUR 100 million (1) made available to the German Federal State of Saarland towards financing higher education and research facilities. The different sub-projects targeted form part of a multi-annual capital investment programme aimed at strengthening biomedical and biotechnological research at the State's university hospital as well as expanding research capacity in other high technology areas. The purpose of increasing Saarland's R&D potential is, at the same time, to give fresh impetus to the Federal State's economic development. The EIB's loan will focus, in particular, on enhancing higher education facilities in terms of:
- data communications infrastructure;
- advanced energy-saving technology;
- plans to extend scientific and technical libraries;
- security measures in the areas of organic and physical chemistry;
- buildings for study courses in energy and process engineering;
- investment in out-patient clinic at the University Hospital in Homburg.
In backing these projects, through its tangible support for added education facilities and a more pro-active R&D economy, the EIB is furthering the EU's goal of promoting the transition to the knowledge-based information society, while strengthening Europe's innovative potential and honing its competitiveness.
The proceeds of the Bank's loan are being intermediated by SaarLB (LandesBank Saar Girozentrale) and offer the Federal State highly favourable interest rate terms compared with a borrowing on the capital market, such that they enable Saarland to take forward further essential capital spending.
Saarland's Finance Minister, Peter Jacoby, and EIB Vice-President Wolfgang Roth are due to sign the contractual documents at SaarLB's headquarters on 11 December, when the financing agreement will also be concluded between the EIB and SaarLB.
The EIB's Innovation 2000 Initiative ("i2i") is designed to support the decisions on promoting research and innovation reached by the EU Heads of State or Government at their March 2000 Lisbon Summit. The Bank's initiative is geared to directing finance towards the following key sectors: venture capital fund financing for SMEs, activation of innovation, research and development projects, information technology and telecommunications networks, and, last but not least, human capital (with the emphasis on health and education facilities). Over the next three years, the EIB plans to promote capital investment throughout these different sectors by virtue of a special lending programme of EUR 12 to 15 billion together with EUR 1 billion in venture capital operations.
The loan for Saarland is the first of its kind in Germany under the Innovation 2000 Initiative.
Aggregate EIB lending in the Federal Republic of Germany to date in 2000 is running at EUR 6 billion.
(1) EUR 1 = DEM 1.95583