The European Union said it will spend €3.45 billion ($4.5 billion) over the next 10 years on multiple-partner projects intended to yield new vaccines, medicines, and treatments.

EU’s new Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 (IMI2)—set to start in January and end in 2024—is designed to launch new research efforts that involve companies, universities, public laboratories, innovative small- and medium-sized enterprises, patient groups, and regulators.

“It will pave the way for breakthrough vaccines, medicines, and treatments to tackle Europe’s growing health challenges through a concentrated and combined science and innovation effort,” the EU said in a statement. “It will help secure the future international competitiveness of Europe’s pharmaceutical industry.”

Among three benchmarks set for IMI2:

  • Achieving 30% or better success rate in clinical trials of priority medicines identified by the World Health Organization.
  • Attaining clinical proof of concept in immunological, respiratory, neurological, and neurodegenerative diseases in five years.
  • For the disease categories, new and approved diagnostic markers as well as at least two new medicines.

IMI2 is the successor to the current €2 billion ($2.6 billion) IMI, whose 40 projects include the first-ever human pancreatic beta-cell line, aimed at developing diabetes drugs faster; new drug-toxicity prediction models; a new severe-asthma definition; the world’s largest database of schizophrenia studies; and research into the mechanisms of chronic pain.

The EU spelled out among goals for IMI2: delivering more efficient and effective medicines and treatments to Europe’s aging population, producing cost savings for the continent’s mostly state-run healthcare systems, and improving clinical trials and regulation through increased coordination.

To pay for IMI2, the EU will spend up to €1.725 billion ($2.25 billion) from its Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, while the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) has committed up to €1.5 billion (about $2 billion)—to which it would add up to €225 million ($293 million) if other life science industries join and contribute to IMI2 as members or associated partners in individual projects.

IMI2 was one of five public-private efforts or “joint technology initiatives” rolled out yesterday by the EU. The other four focus on expanding use of fuel cells and hydrogen, developing aircraft with significantly less CO2 emissions, using renewable natural resources and new technologies for green everyday products, and bolstering Europe’s electronics manufacturing capabilities.

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