€ 420 million to innovative companies in Portugal with financial backing from Horizon 2020

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€420 million to innovative companies in Portugal with financial backing from Horizon 2020

Brussels, 18 September 2015

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and three Portuguese banks - Banco Internacional do Funchal (Banif), Banco Comercial Português (Millennium bcp) and Novo Banco - signed today an agreement to increase lending to innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as small mid-caps in the country. This is the first transaction in Portugal to benefit from the support of the SME window of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).

The new agreement allows the three banks to provide a total of €420 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.

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “I am honoured to welcome this deal backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments and Horizon 2020. This is an important EU contribution to the benefit of innovative companies in Portugal that will have access to €420 million in new loans over the next two years. Portugal has a fantastic innovation potential and this deal will help more companies invest in innovative ideas and business projects. In doing so, we are investing in the economic growth of Portugal and the EU."

The new deals, first to be supported by EFSI, follow an SME guarantee agreement signed in December 2014 between EIF and Banco BPI under the InnovFin initiative, supporting up to €200 million of lending over two years to innovative companies in Portugal.

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 conclusions 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 seven years almost €80 billion is being 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.

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