The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending EUR 45m (around PLN 185m) to the largest Polish manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, Polpharma, for its research into and development of biosimilar drugs – more affordable alternatives to current treatments. This is the first EIB operation in Poland supported by the new generation of financial instruments for innovative and growth companies, “InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators”, with the financial backing of the European Union under Horizon 2020.
The aim of the project of Polpharma is to provide patients with wider access to modern biological drugs and also to address unmet medical needs in the area of severe and life-threatening diseases such as cancer, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Europe’s long-term lending institution is strongly committed to supporting fast growing, innovative and expanding Polish companies like Polpharma and encourages innovative research in the healthcare sector. Both development and manufacturing of biosimilar drugs requires strong research and development efforts, such as optimising production in a sensitive cell culture and extensive clinical trials proving therapeutic equivalence to the original biological drugs. For projects of this nature and risk profile, it is the diversification of funding sources, long maturities and favourable terms offered by the EIB that companies like Polpharma find attractive.
Pharmaceutical research into and the clinical development of new therapeutics are one of the most costly and risky areas of knowledge creation. The “InnovFin Large Project” facility is specifically dedicated to improving access to risk finance for research and innovation projects originating from larger firms in the European Union. Through its research, development and innovation activities, Polpharma will contribute to increasing patient access to essential drugs in Europe in areas that are crucial for the improvement of its citizens' health. The project will be implemented in the company’s facilities in Poland, safeguarding and creating employment opportunities for the skilled workforce in the country. Given Polpharma’s collaboration with universities, the knowledge acquired through the research activities will also be widely disseminated across Europe.
László Baranyay, EIB Vice-President responsible for lending in Poland, said, “We are pleased to be partnering with Polpharma in this breakthrough operation as it will enable the EIB, the bank of the European Union, to support innovative research and development of more affordable healthcare treatments in Poland. Polpharma is a role model for our support for fast growing, innovative and expanding companies in Poland. Projects such as this strengthen the competitiveness and boost the innovative capacity of European health-related industries and businesses.”
Jan Faryaszewski, Vice-President of Polpharma Pharmaceutical Works, added: “Development in biotechnology requires huge investment and the building of long-term partnerships. Polpharma's business goals are in line with the EIB’s strategy of supporting innovative projects over the long term. As a Polish innovation leader we are happy to collaborate with such an important and solid partner. We believe that our partnership will contribute to faster development of biological drugs that are important for patients.”
Over last five years, the EIB has provided around EUR 10bn for healthcare investment. It is committed to promoting projects in this area both by supporting the modernisation and development of hospitals and medical centres and by boosting research, development and innovation in the areas of medical technology, biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry.
About the European Investment Bank:
The EIB is the long-term lending institution of the European Union and is owned by the EU Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals. In 2014, EIB financing operations in Poland amounted to EUR 5.5bn.
Polpharma is the largest Polish manufacturer of medicines and a leader in the Polish pharmaceutical market. It is among the top 20 generic drug manufacturers in the world, with annual sales of USD 1bn. The company employs more than 7 000 people. It operates in the markets of Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia with seven manufacturing plants and six research and development centres. In Gdansk Science and Technology Park it created the most modern laboratory in Poland to develop biological drugs.
Under Horizon 2020, the new EU research programme for 2014-20, the European Commission and European Investment Bank Group (EIB and EIF) have launched a new generation of financial instruments and advisory services to help innovative firms access finance more easily. Over the next seven years, "InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators" will offer a range of tailored products that will make available more than EUR 24bn of financial support for research and innovation (R&I) by small, medium-sized and large companies and the promoters of research infrastructure. This finance is expected to support up to EUR 48bn of final R&I investments. InnovFin builds on the success of the Risk-Sharing Finance Facility developed under the seventh EU framework programme for research and technological development (FP7), which financed 114 R&I projects to the tune of EUR 11.3bn and also provided loan guarantees worth over EUR 1.4bn.
Backed by funds earmarked under Horizon 2020 and by the EIB Group, InnovFin financial products support R&I activities, which by their nature are riskier and harder to assess than traditional investments and therefore often face difficulties in gaining access to finance. All are demand-driven instruments, with no prior allocations between sectors, countries or regions. Firms and other entities located in EU Member States and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries will be eligible as final beneficiaries. These debt instruments will be complemented in the near future by a suite of equity instruments managed by the EIF.
InnovFin Large Projects aims to improve access to risk finance for R&I projects emanating from larger firms, universities and public research organisations, R&I infrastructure (including innovation-enabling infrastructure), public-private partnerships and special-purpose vehicles or projects (including those promoting first-of-a-kind, commercial-scale industrial demonstration projects). Loans and guarantees from EUR 25m to EUR 300m will be provided directly by the EIB.
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