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European Investment bank

The European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have joined forces to set up the Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF). RSFF is an innovative financial instrument to improve access to debt financing for private companies or public institutions promoting activities in the field of Research, Technological Development Demonstration, and Innovation investments.

RSFF aims to improve access to debt financing for participants by sharing the risks taken by the financial institutions between the 7th Research Framework Programme of the EU (FP7) and the EIB. For the period 2007-2013 the Capacities Specific Programme (Research Infrastructure) contribution to RSFF for the development of research infrastructures is expected to be 200 M€. The EIB will match the financial contribution to this instrument providing an estimated value of loans covered by the RSFF equal to 2 billion € for the development of research infrastructures.

Under the provisions of the last amendment of the RSFF co-operation agreement (5 December 2011), the potential beneficiaries of an RSFF loan can be:

  • The owner or the operator of the research infrastructure itself (public or private body);
  • A supplier participating in or contributing to the technological development and/or the construction of a research infrastructure (e.g. suppliers of major scientific equipments, construction industries);
  • An entity dedicated to the commercialisation of the research infrastructure services.

RSFF loans to Research infrastructures

So far this funding scheme has benefited three research infrastructures projects:

  • Alphasat - Alphasat is a joint undertaking of the European Space Agency and Inmarsat Plc, a UK-based satellite communications company. Inmarsat has been provided in 2010 a loan of up to 225 M€ towards the construction and launch of the satellite expected to cost around 598 M€. The Alphasat satellite will be "open access" for research organisations. It will initially house four technological demonstration payloads developed by several European universities, industry and space organisations for aeronautical, land and maritime research. Alphasat is scheduled to be launched in early 2013.
  • Sincrotrone Trieste - Extension: Sincrotrone Trieste has been provided in 2010 a loan of up to 20 M€ for the completion and launching of the new FERMI@Elettra light source. FERMI@Elettra is based on a newly designed free-electron laser for studying materials, which as an international laboratory will be open to the scientific community and to companies. The RSFF loan will cover 50% of the cost of the final phase of the project. With the new source, Sincrotrone Trieste intends to establish itself over the next few years as one of the major players in Europe and globally in the study of surfaces and new materials at the atomic and subatomic level.
  • Ion Beam Applications – IBA: IBA has been provided in 2009 a loan of up to 50 M€ for research and development projects in the fields of cancer diagnosis and therapy. IBA is a research infrastructure supplier. It develops and markets leading edge technologies, pharmaceuticals and tailor-made solutions for healthcare with a focus on cancer diagnosis and therapy. Leveraging on its scientific expertise, IBA is also active in the field of industrial sterilization and ionization.

At least three additional projects are in the pipeline for evaluation and approval in 2012-2013.

    The European Extremely Large Telescope for optical astronomy is part of the ESFRI Roadmap.
  • Oxford Instruments
    Oxford Instruments specialises in the design, manufacture and support of hi-tech tools and systems for industry research.
  • European Spallation Source - ESS.
    The European Spallation Source is part of the ESFRI Roadmap.