European Commission, EIB and EIF launch new scheme to help SMEs get loans for research and innovation

Brussels, 5 December 2011. Today the European Commission and the European Investment Bank Group launch a new guarantee facility for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to help them access finance from banks. This builds on the success of the Risk-Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF), launched in 2007, that has so far helped 75 companies benefit from over €7 billion in EIB loans to projects enhancing European growth and competitiveness. The new risk-sharing instrument for SMEs will be managed by the European Investment Fund (EIF). In addition, the EIB and the European Commission are to provide extra resources for research infrastructures.

"Investing in research and innovation carried out by SMEs means that we will have more growth, sustainability and competitiveness in Europe" said European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. "The Risk-Sharing Finance Facility has proved to be one of the most successful parts of the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme, and through co-operation with the EIB has already unlocked significant new investment for research, development and innovation."

“Without raising its potential through research and innovation, Europe will be unable to generate the growth it needs to maintain its place in the world economy," said European Investment Bank President Philippe Maystadt. "The Risk-Sharing Finance Facility has already helped many large and mid-cap companies realise their plans. With the changes we are announcing, we are confident that SMEs will now also benefit."

The SME risk-sharing instrument (RSI) will be managed by the EIF, the EIB Group subsidiary that specialises in providing risk finance to benefit micro, small and medium-sized enterprises across Europe via equity and loan guarantees. The EIF will offer banks a guarantee on part of their new loans and leases to innovative SMEs, allowing the banks to lend more and to do so at more attractive rates.

"Innovative SMEs in their start-up and early stages have particular difficulties in accessing finance," said EIF Chief Executive Richard Pelly. "The new RSFF guarantee window, the Risk-Sharing Instrument, addresses this funding gap and helps these dynamic and fast-growing SMEs to start and grow their businesses."

The amendment to the existing RSFF agreement was signed by Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and by EIB President Philippe Maystadt at the start of the 2011 Innovation Convention in Brussels. It is expected to unlock a further €6 billion of loans until the end of 2013, including up to €1.2 billion for SMEs and up to €300 million for research infrastructures. From 2014, in conjunction with new instruments for equity finance, the Commission intends to scale up and expand the RSFF under the proposed Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.