The European Spallation Source ERIC today has signed a line of credit agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) and AB Svensk Exportkredit (SEK) at the ESS construction site in Lund. This enables ESS to maintain an aggressive schedule in this phase of the construction project.
|ABOVE: The four signatories of the financing agreement today at the ESS construction site in Lund. From left, Vice President of the European Investment Bank Jan Vapaavuori, ESS Director General John Womersley, President and CEO of the Nordic Investment Bank Henrik Normann, and Executive Vice President of AB Svensk Exportkredit Per Åkerlind. PHOTO: ESS|
Provides Early-Stage Liquidity for Construction
"With the support of EIB, NIB and SEK through this financing we can keep up the quick pace in the construction of the world's most advanced research facility based on neutrons," said Agneta Nestenborg, ESS Director for Administration. "It is important for ESS to ensure liquidity in order to meet the project costs and avoid costly delays."
Representatives from ESS, EIB, NIB, SEK and Skanska gathered for a site tour prior to today's signing ceremony. PHOTO: ESS
The agreement, signed at the ESS Construction site in Lund today in the presence of among others representatives of the European Commission, the three financial institutions and ESS, provides the research centre with a line of credit that extends over seven years. EIB, NIB and SEK each participates with 100 MEUR, in total up to 300 MEUR. This financing, long in the planning, enables ESS to stay on track in the construction project and meet costs as they arise, without risking delays. Most member countries have flat cash contribution profiles, paying the same amount to the organisation every financial year, while the project itself will require liquidity at an earlier stage in the construction.
Scientific Goals of ESS Aligned with EIB Priorities
“Supporting a European research infrastructure which will facilitate scientific cooperation between European countries makes perfect sense for EIB," said Jan Vapaavuori, EIB Vice-President. "Furthermore, the ESS’ unique, cutting edge research capacity creates significant and exciting new opportunities in the fields of life sciences, energy and environmental technology, which are also priority objectives of the EIB."
For the first time EIB, NIB and SEK together support a large European research infrastructure project, thus promoting European science and innovation. The European Spallation Source is a high priority research facility based on the world's most powerful neutron source, and plans to deliver the first neutrons by 2019 and open the user programme in 2023.
|Representatives from the European Investment Bank arriving at the ESS construction site in Lund on Tuesday. PHOTO: ESS|
Before signing the agreements, the representatives could see the construction progress for themselves today on a guided tour at the ESS site. The ESS construction project is now 25 percent complete and the first major technical components delivered from one of the ESS in-kind partners is being installed on site this week. Installations of equipment in the Cryo Compressor building for the Accelerator will start in December, and the technical installations phase will ramp up during 2017.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals. The EU Bank has also supported the ESS through its Advisory services and has in the past supported other large research projects like CERN in Geneva.
InnovFin Large Projects is part of "InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators", the new generation of EU financial instruments and advisory services that was developed under Horizon 2020 to help innovative firms access finance more easily. It will help inject up to €48 billion in investments in Research and Innovation across Europe. 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 infrastructures (including innovation-enabling infrastructures); 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 are delivered directly by the EIB.
About Horizon 2020. On 1 January 2014, the European Union launched a new research and innovation funding programme called Horizon 2020. Over seven years, about €77 billion is invested in research and innovation projects to support Europe’s economic competitiveness and extend the frontiers of human knowledge. The EU research and innovation budget is focused mainly on improving everyday life in areas like health, the environment, transport, food and energy. Research and innovation partnerships with the pharmaceutical, aerospace, car and electronics industries also encourage private-sector investment in support of future growth and high-skilled job creation.