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SMEs in South-eastern Europe to benefit from €250 million in EU-guaranteed loans

Brussels, 28 January 2016

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in seven countries in South-eastern Europe – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Romania and Serbia - will get easier access to risk capital. This is thanks to the InnovFin SME guarantee, a new EU-backed loan facility under the Horizon 2020 programme. A deal signed today by European Investment Fund (EIF) with the German ProCredit group will allow its banks to enter into new loan agreements with SMEs as well as Small Mid-caps for a total of €250 million over the next two years.

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "The EU-backed loan agreement signed today is open to SMEs and small midcaps in EU Member States as well as countries associated to Horizon 2020 in South-East Europe. Its objective is to help boost investment in innovative companies to promote jobs and growth."

The loans to finance innovation activities will be guaranteed up to 50% by the European Investment Fund and the European Union (EU) under InnovFin SME Guarantee, which targets early and development stage companies. It is part of the new generation of financial instruments supported under Horizon 2020, the EU's Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (IP/14/670).

Background

InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility provides guarantees and counter-guarantees on debt financing of between €25,000 and €7.5 million in order to improve access to loan finance for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises and small midcaps (up to 499 employees). The facility is managed by the EIF, and is rolled out through financial intermediaries – banks and other financial institutions – in EU Member States and Associated Countries. Under this facility, financial intermediaries are guaranteed by the EIF against a proportion of their losses incurred on the debt financing covered under the facility.

InnovFin SME Guarantee is part of "InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators", the new generation of EU financial instruments and advisory services that was developed under Horizon 2020 to help innovative firms access finance more easily. It will help inject up to €48 billion in investments in Research and Innovation across Europe.

About Horizon 2020

On 1 January 2014, the European Union launched a new research and innovation funding programme called Horizon 2020. Over the 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.

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