The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Banco Internacional do Funchal (Banif), Banco Comercial Português (Millennium bcp) and Novo Banco, have signed guarantee agreements to increase lending to innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small mid-caps in Portugal. These are the first transactions in Portugal to benefit from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) through which the Investment Plan for Europe will be deployed by the European Commission and the EIB Group.

The new agreements will allow the three banks to provide a total of EUR 420m of loans to innovative companies in Portugal over the next 2 years. The loans will be supported by an EIF guarantee under the “EU InnovFin finance for Innovators” initiative with financial backing from the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme. The agreements signed today in Portugal will make it possible for Banif, Millennium bcp and Novo Banco to offer innovative companies additional financing at favourable conditions.

Commenting on the agreements, European Commissioner Carlos Moedas, responsible 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 EUR 420m 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."

EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert commented: “I am pleased to be signing the first EFSI Guarantees deals under InnovFin for Portuguese SMEs. The European Fund for Strategic Investments has allowed us to increase our support for innovative companies and together with our long term partners we can ensure that companies in Portugal will be able to benefit from this funding over the next two years.”

Jorge Tomé, Chief Executive Officer of Banif, said: “Banif is a Bank that is rooted in the support of SMEs and entrepreneurs in Portugal. With this agreement, Banif reinforces its positioning and is able to offer interesting solutions to SMEs and entrepreneurs that are innovative and have a very important role to play in the change of competitive pattern of the Portuguese Economy.

Nuno Amado, Chief Executive Officer of Millennium bcp, said: “Millennium, the largest listed bank in Portugal, is very pleased to sign this agreement, which represents an important opportunity for Portuguese innovative SMEs. Innovation and entrepreneurship, focused on quality projects, are central to Portugal’s sustainable economic growth, and I am certain this new guarantee facility provided by EIF under the Horizon 2020 framework will be a key resource for the many companies that do business with Millennium."

José João Guilherme, Member of the Board of Directors of Novo Banco, said: “The signing of the 1st “InnovFin SME Guarantee” agreement under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is of particular importance for Novo Banco. It will enable us to maintain our strategy of supporting the Portuguese economy, through the financing of innovative SMEs and Small Mid-Caps, with particular emphasis on those focusing in innovation, research and development. This is the second transaction concluded between Novo Banco and the European Investment Fund, after the successful deployment of the Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSI) in October 2013, through which EUR 160 million have been disbursed to over 180 innovative companies working with Novo Banco."