Finnish Industry Investment Ltd announces collaboration with Merlin Biosciences Ltd

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Finnish Industry Investment Ltd and Merlin Biosciences Ltd have signed a cooperation agreement. The main objective of the agreement is to gain new international investments and business competence to Finnish biotech industry.

Finnish Industry Investment has made a 10,0 million euros investment commitment to Merlin Biosciences Fund III LP. The venture capital fund is focused on mid and late-stage investments in European human life science companies. The aim is to raise the total up to approximately 200 million euros by the end of the year. The fund has attracted major global investors, including the European Investment Fund (UK) and WestLB AG (Germany).

A significant part of the cooperation is the opening of Merlin's satellite office in Helsinki during this autumn. "A local presence in Finland will significantly strengthen our ability to bring international expertise to Finnish biotechnology companies", commented Professor Sir Christopher Evans, the founder and Chairman of Merlin Biosciences.

Merlin will continue to invest in quality companies that can compete on a global basis. Merlin's strategy is to lead the investment. Merlin will also act as Industry Investment's advisor on biotech issues.

"In coming years the risk financing needs of Finnish biotech industry will grow outstandingly and the funding will not be possible without international investments. It's also essential for Finnish biotech industry to gain international expertise in order to find their way to the global market", says Mr Juha Marjosola, Managing Director of Finnish Industry Investment.

Finnish Industry Investment Ltd is a State-owned venture capital investment company operating under Finnish Ministry of Trade and Industry. The objective of the company is to promote funding of the Finnish seed- and growth-stage companies via venture capital funds and by making direct investments. The total amount of State investment in the company is EUR 269.9 million (31 May 2003).

Merlin Biosciences Ltd is one of the largest investors in the European bioscience market. It advises three investment funds with total capital of EUR 400 million. Since 1997, Merlin has made 24 equity investments in European biotechnology companies. With headquarters in London Merlin has offices in Cambridge, Luxembourg, Frankfurt and Munchen.

Further information:

Juha Marjosola, Managing Director
Finnish Industry Investment Ltd
Tel + 358 9 6803 6811
Mobile +358-50-52 636

Mark Clement, General Partner
Merlin Biosciences Ltd
Tel + 44 20 7811 4004
Mobile + 44 77 7190 2811

Associate Samantha Axtell
Merlin Biosciences Ltd
Tel +44 (0)20 7811 4002
Mobile +44 (0)77 6676 1252