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€100 million to innovative companies in Italy with financial backing from Horizon 2020

Brussels, 16 July 2015

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Banca Popolare dell’Emilia Romagna (BPER) today signed an agreement to increase lending to innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as small mid-caps in Italy. This is the first transaction in Italy to benefit from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).

The new agreement allows BPER to provide €100 million of finance to innovative companies over the next two years. The loans will be backed by a guarantee of the EIF, enabled by the InnovFin initiative with financial backing from Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation funding programme.

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “I am glad that today's deal between EIF and BPER Banca, backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, will allow Italian SMEs to access a €100 million in funding through new loans. This is another example how the Investment Plan for Europe is boosting investments that can benefit the growth of innovative businesses."

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "The InnovFin deal signed today under EFSI with the financial backing of Horizon 2020 will facilitate access to loans for innovative enterprises. This new deal comes on top of the €220 million for Italian companies announced in June under the InnovFin SME guarantee and will contribute to SME growth and competitiveness."


About the Investment Plan for Europe

The Investment Plan for Europe focuses on removing obstacles to investment, providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects and making smarter use of new and existing financial resources. To achieve these goals, the plan is active is three areas: mobilising investments of at least €315 billion in three years, supporting investment in the real economy, and creating an investment-friendly environment.

On 28 May, just four and a half months after the Commission adopted the legislative proposal on 13 January, EU legislators reached a political agreement on the Regulation for European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). Member States unanimously endorsed it on 10 March and the European Parliament voted in committee on 20 April. Finance Ministers welcomed the agreement on the Regulation at the ECOFIN Council on 19 June, and the European Parliament voted through the Regulation at their plenary session on 24 June, allowing the EFSI to be operational by September as planned.

In line with the European Council conclusionsPDF icon of December 2014, which invited the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group to "start activities by using its own funds as of January 2015", the EIB has already announced several projects to be pre-financed in the context of the Investment Plan for Europe, in which it is the Commission's strategic partner. The EIF is part of the EIB Group.


About Horizon 2020

On 1 January 2014, the European Union launched a new research and innovation funding programme called Horizon 2020. Over the next seven years almost €80 billion will be invested in research and innovation projects to support Europe’s economic competitiveness and extend the frontiers of human knowledge. The EU research budget is focused mainly on improving everyday life in areas like health, the environment, transport, food and energy. Research partnerships with the pharmaceutical, aerospace, car and electronics industries also encourage private-sector investment in support of future growth and high-skilled job creation. "InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators", the new generation of EU financial instruments and advisory services was developed under Horizon 2020 to help innovative firms access finance more easily. "InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators" will help to inject up to €48 billion in investments in Research and Innovation across Europe.

In June 2015, the EIF signed a deal with the Credem Group under the InnovFin SME Guarantee instrument that allows the bank to enter into new loan agreements with Italian SMEs as well as Small Mid-caps for a total of €220 million over the next two years.


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