NIB and Citadele bank back Vilnius gene therapy facility

The Nordic Investment Bank (NIB), Latvian bank Citadele and the Lithuanian biopharmaceutical company UAB Celltechna announced April 25 they have signed a ten-year financing agreement of EUR 37 million for a gene therapy product facility in Vilnius.

NIB will provide a EUR 22.5 million loan, and Citadele will extend a EUR 14.5 million loan for the project.

"The new Gene Therapy Centre will be the first and so far the only one of its kind in the Baltic countries. It will provide facilities for both research and manufacturing processes, supporting the development of genetic disease treatments," said a release from NIB.

Spanning approximately 8,000 square metres, the state-of-the-art facility plans to create over 100 new jobs.

“With our financing, we support the strategic development of Lithuania’s priority sector,” said Jeanette Vitasp, Vice-President and Head of Lending at NIB. “The project will not only increase the country’s competitiveness in a rapidly advancing field but will also enable significant growth potential for the whole region.”

“We appreciate the opportunity to contribute to Lithuania's leadership in biotechnology and life sciences. Such strategic projects help to build an economy that is more resilient to future challenges and support a steadfast development of the country”, said Vaidas Žagūnis, Member of the Management Board, Chief Corporate Commercial Officer at Citadele.

Expanding product offerings from biopharmaceuticals to gene therapy treatments marks the initial phase of an ambitious long-term vision to centralise expertise in life sciences. The company plans to build additional biomanufacturing and research facilities in the area to form a large biotechnology hub called BIO CITY.

“We sincerely value the trust and financial loans extended by the NIB and Citadele towards developing the first gene therapy centre in the Baltics, which is one of the key components of the BIO CITY project of Northway Healthcare Group. The completion of this centre within the current year signifies a monumental stride in our plans to establish the largest biotechnology city in Europe, located in Vilnius”, said prof. Vladas Algirdas Bumelis, CEO of Celltechna.

Currently, the Life Science sector generates approximately 2.5% of Lithuania’s GDP. In 2023, the Lithuanian Government revised its long-term strategy with an ambition to increase this to 5% by 2030.

The borrower, Celltechna UAB, is a small biopharmaceutical Contract Development and Manufacturing Organisation (CDMO) that provides drug development and manufacturing services to pharmaceutical companies in Europe and the US. The guarantor, Biotechpharma UAB, doing business as Northway Biotech, is a related company with a focus on providing services to pharmaceutical research companies that work on discovering new drugs.

NIB is an international financial institution owned by eight member countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden. The Bank finances private and public projects in and outside the member countries.

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