The European Investment Bank (EIB) will finance the innovation strategy of a Spanish firm Cikautxo, a specialist in the production of plastic and rubber components for the automotive sector. An industrial cooperative and part of the Mondragón Corporation, the company will implement new, more sustainable production processes enabling the development of innovative products to help manufacture less polluting vehicles. It will receive EIB support to this end, with EIB Vice-President Emma Navarro and Cikautxo Managing Director Iñigo Laskurain signing a finance contract in Berriatua (Biscay) for a EUR 26m EIB loan provided under the Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan.
Cikautxo will be able to use the EU bank financing to make the necessary research, development and innovation (RDI) investments at the Berriatua (Biscay) facility that also houses its headquarters. The aim is to conduct research into fuel efficiency and making car parts lighter to promote the development of electric or less polluting vehicles. The company will implement new production processes to drive manufacturing using recyclable alternatives to rubber.
The EIB support will help the business to expand its production capacity within the EU, not only in its Spanish plants but also in convergence regions in Czechia, Slovakia and Romania. Cikautxo's innovation and growth strategy will also have applications in medical equipment and domestic appliances, sectors to which the company dedicates part of its production. The project will have a positive impact on job creation, as it will require 600 people to be employed during the four-year implementation phase.
At the signing ceremony at the company's headquarters in Berriatua, EIB Vice-President Emma Navarro highlighted "the dual economic and environmental impact of this agreement, which demonstrates the EIB's dedication to supporting the future of businesses needing major investment in innovation to ensure their competitiveness and keep growing. It also shows our firm commitment to economically and environmentally sustainable growth via support for more efficient production processes and assistance for developing technologies to secure a leading role for Spain and Europe in a more environmentally friendly automotive industry."
European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "Electric cars are crucial for the transition towards a more sustainable Europe. This €26 million EFSI-backed loan to Cikautxo to develop innovative products for electric and hybrid cars is helping to put the EU at the forefront of clean transport. Thanks to the support of the Investment Plan, hundreds of jobs will be created in Spain and regional development will be supported in Czechia, Romania and Slovakia."
Iñigo Laskurain emphasised "the importance of this operation, which will enable the cooperative to continue investing in new products and solutions to guarantee its leading position in the areas where it is already a European and global reference point."
The EIB-Cikautxo agreement was signed under the Loans for Mid-caps in Spain and Portugal programme, a dedicated EIB financing facility for mid-caps (firms with up to 3 000 employees). Thanks to the backing of the Investment Plan for Europe, this credit line will make it possible to support investment in projects that have a higher risk profile, owing to their structure or nature, but contribute to boosting growth and employment.