High-tech companies and research institutes in Finland located in Technopolis parks in Oulu, and Helsinki area benefit already from innovation enabling facilities, supported by EIB. In 2003, an initial EUR 45m EIB loan was for the science-parks development programme (2003-2005) of Technopolis PLC, the largest science park operator in Europe in terms of number of clients.
Further to the success of the project, EIB is now doubling its loan amount support for science parks in Finland to EUR 100m, and increases the geographic spread of the project. Apart Capital Area and Oulu, the new loan aims at supporting the decentralisation of national innovation policy in other leading cities (Lappeenranta, Tampere, Jyväskylä). This will strengthen the competitiveness of regional economies so they become internationally attractive operating environments.
Technopolis differentiates itself from real estate companies since it is not only offering customized office space for high tech companies but also customer advisory services targeted at supporting innovation, from which it generates additional revenues. These services are particularly important for start-up and smaller companies. Technopolis’ strategy consists also of attracting large high tech companies and research institutes, resulting in an attractive operating environment and allowing for a vigorous exchange between different innovation actors.
Finnish science parks play a key role in the national innovation system. Their mission is to facilitate the creation and growth of innovation-based firms, support incubation and spin-offs and stimulate and manage the flow of knowledge and technology amongst universities, R&D institutions and companies, including enhancing links to universities. A recent study on the success of Finnish science parks as seedbeds of innovation indicates that park tenants exhibit a comparatively better performance in terms of innovative output than comparable outside science parks firms.
Note for the editor:
The European Investment Bank Group, the banking group promoting European objectives and financing European projects, provides capital investment aimed at modernising the economies of the Member States and of the countries close to the Union. In 2007, the European Investment Bank lent a total of EUR 47.8bn for projects promoting the European Union’s policy objectives. Finance for the then EU-27 Member States represented 87% of its activities and amounted to EUR 41.4bn. To fund its activities, the EIB raised an aggregate amount of EUR 55bn on the international capital markets through 236 bond issues in 23 currencies. Owned by the Member States, the EIB (with its AAA rating) is the largest supranational issuer. The EIB supports the EU ambitious objective to establish a competitive, innovative and knowledge-based European economy, through its Innovation 2010 Initiative (i2i) lending window. In 2000, the EIB pledged to lend EUR 50bn for innovative projects over the period 2000-2010. As it turned out, the Bank was three years early in reaching its objective. With EUR 10.3bn in loans under i2i in 2007, total innovation lending stood at EUR 56bn at the end of the year. The EIB finances three areas of investment to support technological modernisation and the tailoring of education and training to a European economy as proposed in Lisbon:
research, development and innovation (RDI) – private and public sector investment in research, the development of centres of excellence and academic research centres, as well as downstream investment (products and processes) in the private sector;
education and training: support for all levels of education and training (primary, secondary, university, adult education), integration of research into education projects, upgrading related IT infrastructure, etc;
the dissemination of technologies and development of information and communication technology (ICT) – involving the roll-out of fixed and mobile broadband networks and access technologies, the creation of networks in a number of sectors (e-health, e-transport, etc.).
In 2007, the EIB opened a regional Office in Helsinki, located at the headquarters of the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB), aiming to enhance the Bank’s presence in the Baltic Sea region.