The European Investment Bank has signed a loan for an amount of EUR 28 million to support infrastructure development for BioValley, the biotech facility management arm of the Turku Science Park, Finland. BioValley has a remit to develop and provide affordable incubator infrastructure to young biotechnology companies with a focus on research. The EIB loan contributes to development of European R&D and the dissemination of innovation, in line with the Bank's Innovation 2000 Initiative.

Wholly owned by the city of Turku and located in south/west Finland, BioValley fills the gap between the city's leading research in life sciences and the strong pharmaceutical industry in the region. The EIB supported project forms part of a wider plan to establish the Turku area as a leading centre for biotechnology in Finland.

Mr Ewald Nowotny, the EIB Vice-president responsible for Finland, said: "EIB is pleased to support investment in this key infrastructure nurturing young biotechnology enterprises, building upon the city of Turku's renowned university research in life sciences. It will help develop Turku as one of the leading life science clusters in the Nordic countries. This loan is also important as it complements EIB group's Venture Capital efforts via European Investment Fund (EIF) investing in funds, including a specialised biotechnology fund, which has already invested in a biotechnology company already housed in Bio Valley premises. With this type of integrated action EIB Group demonstrates value added in terms of contributing towards a knowledge-based society and development of research based industries in the Nordic region."

The investment meets the EIB´s aims under its Innovation 2000 Initiative (i2i) programme to support new facilities in fields such as biotechnology, microelectronics and information technology. "Biotechnology and information & communication technology are also the core competencies of the Turku Science Park, and biotechnology has been named a key area in the City´s strategy", says Armas Lahoniitty, Mayor of the City of Turku.

The bioscience strategy in the Turku region aims at ensuring the functioning of the whole bio-chain. "The success of Turku Bio Valley depends on the functioning of the entire chain, and the key word is co-operation between universities, companies, the City of Turku and financiers, states Juhani Leppä, Managing Director of Turku Bio Valley Ltd.

The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term lending institution, finances capital investment furthering EU integration, in particular: regional development, trans-European networks in transport, telecoms and energy; industrial competitiveness and integration; SMEs; environmental protection; and energy security. It also operates outside the EU within the framework of the EU's co-operation external policy. Owned by the Member States, the EIB raises its funds on capital markets (AAA issuer). In 2001, the EIB lent some EUR 31 billion within the EU of which EUR 695 million was in Finland.

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. 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.

Turku BioValley

Turku BioValley has as primary function to construct and own premises, including offices, laboratories and production facilities. A typical BioValley client is a small, pharmaceutical or biotechnology start-up company financed by venture capital and willing to use existing funds for core operations, such as R&D, rather than own premises.

Bio Valley is one of the largest single location biotechnology clusters in the Nordic countries and an integral part of a comprehensive development plan for the region's biotechnology industry aiming to create an uninterrupted bioscience chain from training and research all the way to commercialisation, product development and production. Within this context Turku Bio Valley has a dual role.

The project comprises five new purpose-built buildings, aimed at biomedical production and research, totalling 31,000 square meters. The buildings will include production spaces as well as product development, laboratory and office space in support of production. Special requirements on temperature, humidity and cleanness of the inner air and the restriction of possible emission to the environment have been considered in the design.