The European Investment Bank (EIB) has today signed a EUR 50 million loan with the Finnish State enterprise, Senate Properties, which will facilitate the planning and construction of new higher education and research buildings and the rehabilitation, extension, furnishing and equipping of numerous existing facilities. In total, over 130 individual schemes located throughout Finland will benefit from the EIB financing.

The facilities being financed by the EIB are expected to make a significant contribution to the national strategy adopted for Finnish research and higher education which focuses on achieving and maintaining the highest possible standards in research and university premises and encouraging increased dialogue and cooperation between academia and industry.

EIB funding of this project confirms the commitment of the EU's long-term investment arm to the EU-wide Lisbon Strategy. The schemes supported by this loan are expected to have wider economic and social effects at a regional level, encouraging access to further education and improving employment prospects, both of which will strengthen Finland's already strong position as a knowledge-based economy.

This will be the Bank's third loan to Senate. The financing was finalised today in Helsinki and signed by VP Niinistö who commented, It is a great pleasure to further our cooperation with Senate. The EIB's approach to the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy is focused on the links between knowledge creation and the market. I feel strongly that this loan will contribute to the economic development of the country and will strengthen Finland's drive to be a European leader in innovation. Mr Aulis Kokvakka, Managing Director of Senate, added, The continuation of our cooperation with EIB is much welcomed by us and provides us with a welcome diversification of our funding.

The EIB plans to lend up to EUR 50 billion for education, research, development and innovation projects by the end of the decade. Since the launch of the Lisbon Strategy in 2000, the Bank has financed related projects in the EU-25 to the tune of EUR 24.1 billion. In 2004 alone, the Bank financed some 60 projects promoting the Lisbon Strategy for a total of EUR 7 billion in the EU-25.