We benefit from scientific discovery and technological advances in our daily lives — new innovative goods and services are available that are tailor-made to our specific needs.
EU contribution to RSFF in 2009
At the same time, research creates new knowledge that can help to address the global challenges and risks we are facing such as climate change, energy security and environmental pollution. It is also a key economic factor in terms of its potential to create growth, income, employment, competitiveness, a strong market position and environmental protection. Research needs investment for this, but does not always guarantee immediate success.
Research projects are high risk, due to their uncertain outcome or potential for exploitation. Financial support is thus difficult to obtain. In addition, the economic downturn has rendered it more difficult to reach the European Union’s initial goal of investing 3 % of GDP from the public and private sectors in research. FP7 provides a new financial instrument to invest in promising research projects: the Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF).
The RSFF has been jointly developed by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB), and each institution is making available up to € 1 billion for the period 2007–13 to share the risks related to RSFF finance. The EIB provides loans to private and public entities investing in research, development and innovation (RDI) projects. The European Union supports the EIB by providing partial risk coverage for its loans. Through its leverage effect, the RSFF can support riskier investment in RDI of up to € 10 billion until 2013. The RSFF targets research-intensive entities and research infrastructures, irrespective of their size and ownership, which contribute to the objectives of FP7. In 2009, the demand for RSFF loan finance was particularly strong despite the economic and financial crisis. Budget resources of € 70 million were therefore brought forward from the 2010 budget to 2009 to meet the high demand for RSFF loans from private-sector companies.
The EIB approved a total amount of € 6.3 billion for 62 projects in 20 EU Member States and associated countries up to the end of 2009. Of those 62 approvals, 46 loan contracts between the EIB and beneficiaries have already been signed, for a total value of € 4.5 billion involving projects in the field of engineering, life sciences, energy, information and communication technologies, research infrastructures plus risk-sharing with banks for smaller-scale projects.