• €15 million will be provided to IRBM to expand medical research and development to fight coronavirus and other infectious diseases.
  • The project is being financed via the InnovFin initiative, in cooperation with the European Commission, funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme

The European Investment Bank (EIB) provides €15 million in funding to IRBM SpA, a globally oriented Italian company specialising in research and development for new biomedical and pharmaceutical solutions to combat rare, infectious, oncologic and neurological diseases.  The EIB financing is supported by the Infectious Diseases Finance Facility window under the EU’s InnovFin – EU finance for innovators programme, backed by the European Union’s research and innovation programme Horizon 2020.

The project covers the expansion of the company's research and development activities between 2022 and 2024, both to increase capacity to address the spread of coronavirus and to scale up research into other infectious diseases. The plans will focus on expanding vaccine production, including quality control and assurance with state-of-the-art equipment and technologies.

The expansion will also mobilise IRBM's Italian research infrastructure — among the largest in Europe — to develop vaccines to alleviate the ongoing global vaccine shortage. IRBM’s goal will be to help ensure a more resilient global response to future epidemics by producing second generation vaccines and treatments for SARS-CoV-2 and new coronaviruses. The initiative is expected to have a positive impact on both specialised employment growth and sustainability via innovative biotechnology solutions.

The company's enhanced involvement in the global scientific response will contribute to the development of know-how and production capacities for vaccines and new medicines in Europe, which are among the key priorities of the European Union and in line with the goals of the InnovFin Infectious Diseases Facility (IDFF) and the World Health Organization.

EIB Vice-President Gelsomina Vigliotti said: “This operation confirms the EIB's support for medical research and development alongside innovative companies like IRBM involved in the development of new coronavirus vaccines and treatments.”

IRBM President and CEO Piero Di Lorenzo added: “We are proud that the EIB has decided to provide this financing to support IRBM Group's ambitious development plans which will help the world fight against coronavirus and other infectious diseases. The company is currently enhancing its role in the life science sector via the expansion of highly innovative research and manufacturing capabilities, the hiring of key staff with international expertise and through strategic acquisitions.”

Jean-David Malo, Director of European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) said: “We are happy to join the EIB in supporting IRBM in their research efforts and upscaling their production capacity of COVID-19 vaccines.  This investment contributes to European knowledge and skills in infectious diseases for healthy society and strengthens European independence from external suppliers.”

Background information

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It provides long-term financing for sound investments that contribute to EU policy. The Bank finances projects in four priority areas: infrastructure, innovation, climate and environment, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Between 2019 and 2021, the EIB Group provided more than €36 billion in financing for projects in Italy.

Under Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation framework programme for 2014-2020, the Infectious Diseases Finance Facility (IDFF) provides financial products ranging from standard debt to equity-type financing for amounts typically between €7.5 million and €75 million to innovative players active in developing innovative vaccines, drugs, medical and diagnostic devices or novel research infrastructure for combating infectious diseases. Project costs may include clinical trial costs, set-up of commercialisation such as market access, development of prototypes or industrial roll-out of novel equipment, pre-clinical R&D costs and working capital requirements. This facility is delivered directly by the EIB, which has so far provided €536.5 million under the InnovFin IDFF.

The IRBM Group is an innovative research and manufacturing organisation working across all aspects of drug discovery and early development. IRBM fosters collaborations with organisations from the pharmaceutical, biotech, non-profit and academic sectors to accelerate the development of vaccines and medicines. About 250 scientists work at IRBM’s state-of-the-art R&D facility near Rome where projects are carried out “under one roof” enabling rapid cycle times and close integration of the scientific teams. IRBM’s scientists have discovered several marketed therapeutics, and more than 25 molecules have progressed into clinical testing.

The group’s cGMP facility company is Advent, which is authorised to develop and manufacture investigational lots of adenovirus-based vaccines has a 100% track record for clinical lot approval. Many of the clinical lots have been manufactured for use in clinical trials for infectious diseases including coronavirus, and Ebola.