The European Investment Bank loans Polish biotech $33m for growth

Blood cancer-focused Mabion will use the financing for its R&D programme, conducting clinical trials, as well as expanding its manufacturing capacities

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed to lend €30 million (US$33 million) to Mabion, a Polish biotech company, to finance its growth plans. Mabion will use the financing for a wide-ranging R&D programme, conducting clinical trials, as well as expanding its manufacturing capacities with state-of-the-art equipment.

The company expects to employ 96 additional staff as a result of this financial injection.

The EIB loan is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the financial pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan. The project is the first in Poland to benefit from the EFSI-backed European Growth Finance Facility, which specialises in venture debt.

Mabion is a Polish pre-commercial-stage biotech company focused on the development and manufacturing of medicine to treat certain types of blood cancer, such as lymphoma, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Jean-Christophe Laloux, EIB Director General, Head of Lending Operations, said: "This loan represents a milestone in the EIB support for Poland: it makes innovative financing available for an innovative company that invests heavily in R&D and develops much needed treatment for oncologic diseases. By joining forces with the European Commission, the EU bank can support the long-term plans of Mabion and thus contribute to the growth of the biotech sector in Poland".

Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: "I am delighted that yet again the EU is investing in a project dedicated to healthcare. It is particularly encouraging to see that those who suffer from cancer and autoimmune diseases will greatly benefit from this investment. It is also another sign that this sector is creating jobs and providing incomes to families. It is a clear demonstration that the EU is a strong supporter of innovative, grass-roots companies in Poland and throughout Europe."

Grzegorz Grabowicz, Member of the Board and Financial Director at Mabion, concluded: "After obtaining the consent of EMA to introduce our medicine for sale in the European Union, we will need funds for infrastructure development and to cover the costs of further research. [The] EIB loan addresses a large proportion of our investment and development needs".

Spending the funds

The loan amount will cover around 30% of the estimated costs ($1bn) of the company's growth plans. It will cover R&D costs related to both early and late-stage development programmes including "biosimilars" and innovative drugs, as well as capital expenditures for the scale-up of manufacturing. This includes furnishing existing premises with manufacturing equipment and furnishing an extension of the plant with manufacturing equipment, R&D and quality control laboratories. The transaction will be divided into three milestone-based disbursement tranches.

Thanks to EFSI support, the EIB can take more risk and provide stable long-term financing with a flexible repayment and interest structure, which limits cash outflow from Mabion in the short to medium term and thereby enables the company to focus on investing in innovation and growth.

After completion of clinical trials for its most advanced programme – a biosimilar of rituximab for the treatment of certain types of blood cancer - Mabion is expecting to obtain an opinion of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) by the end of 2019. A positive opinion of the CHMP, a body of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), is the basis for the European Commission to grant marketing authorisation for a medicine. Mabion could become the first EU-based company to introduce a biosimilar of rituximab into the EU market.

The project has a potentially positive impact on employment: it is estimated that it would generate around 96 additional new permanent positions, including for highly skilled people focused on R&D.