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EIF and Banque Publique d’Investissement sign a EUR 200m agreement to support innovative businesses in France with EU support

    Date: 25 September 2013

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Bpifrance (the French public investment bank) have signed a guarantee agreement to support lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) under the Risk Sharing Instrument (RSI), a joint initiative of the European Investment Bank Group and the European Commission.

The new agreement allows Bpifrance Financement to provide EUR 200 million of loans to innovative companies, with the support of a 40% EIF guarantee with EU financial support under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development (FP7). Bpifrance Financement has developed a specific product (“Prêt pour l’innovation” - PPI) for innovative SMEs and Small Mid-caps in France, offering reduced interest rates and collateral requirements thanks to the Risk Sharing Instrument.

This is the second RSI agreement in France, bringing the total loan finance available to innovative businesses across the EU under this initiative to well above EUR 1 billion with 15 operations signed in 11 countries so far. The agreement signed today will help the bank to target more innovative businesses across the country.

Commenting on the signature, EIF Chief Executive Richard Pelly said: “I am pleased to be signing this RSI agreement in France with Bpifrance Financement under the new Risk Sharing Instrument in support of innovative small and medium sized enterprises. I am sure that Bpifrance financement will ensure that much needed finance will be quickly channelled to over 200 innovation driven businesses across the country in times where access to finance is a real challenge for many enterprises.

France Minister of Finance, Pierre Moscovici, declared: “This agreement is an example of what can be achieved by combining European resources and strong national operators. It will definitely support innovative businesses in France.”

Bpifrance CEO, Nicolas Dufourcq declared: “I am delighted to be signing this agreement which will help innovative small and medium sized enterprises overcome the “Valley of Death” – the gap in financing between a research project and a commercial product or process. As Bpifrance is a major provider of funding for innovative companies through research or innovation support schemes, the financing will be rolled out very quickly".

European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, welcomed this second signature under RSI in France "This agreement is an excellent example of how we can work together at EU level and with public banks, in order to help innovative companies access risk finance. Financing research and innovation and helping those SMEs who take risks to bring ideas to the market will mean more jobs and growth in France and across Europe."

The aim of the RSI Facility is to encourage banks to lend to SMEs and small mid-caps with fewer than 500 employees in need of investment financing and/or operating capital to support research, development and innovation activities, with EU financial support. Banks are being selected by the EIF following a call for expression of interest for financial intermediaries across Europe.

About the Risk-Sharing Instrument (RSI) under FP7

The RSI facility aims to encourage banks to provide loans of up to €7.5 million to SMEs and small mid-caps undertaking research, development or innovation, and seeking finance for investments and/or working capital. The RSI is a joint initiative of the EIF, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Commission. It is supported by the European Union under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7) and uses EIF's risk-taking capacity. It is part of, and complements, the existing Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF), managed by the EIB.

Under this facility, the European Investment Fund (EIF) is providing guarantees to banks and leasing companies that lend to SMEs and Small Mid-Caps. The guarantee covers, upon default, up to 50% of the outstanding amount of each loan. Some 25 or so banks are expected to be involved in the pilot phase, allowing the RSI to reach a total loan volume of up to €2.5 billion channelled to innovative SMEs and Small Mid-caps.

The call is open to financial or credit institutions, established and operating in the EU and/or countries associated to FP7, including, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, Switzerland, Israel, Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Faroe Islands and Moldova.

About the EIF

EIF's central mission is to support Europe's small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance.  EIF designs and develops venture capital and guarantees instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment. The EIF total net commitments to private equity funds amounted to over EUR 6.5bn at end 2012. With investments in over 430 funds, the EIF is a leading player in European venture due to the scale and the scope of its investments, especially in high-tech and early-stage segments. The EIF guarantees loan portfolio totalled over EUR 4.7bn in 255 operations at end 2012, positioning it as a major European SME guarantees actor and a leading micro-finance guarantor.

About Bpifrance Financement

Financial institution resulting from the gathering of OSEO financing professions and the Strategic Investment Fund (FSI), the FSI Regions and CDC entreprises (CDC : Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations) activities, Bpifrance has been, since the 1st of January 2013, the armed wing of the French State at the companies competitiveness and growth service. 

Addressing top national ambition: supporting enterprises in order for them to innovate, invest, grow and export. Bpifrance operates for a broad spectrum of enterprises, all along their development. Bpifrance is also able to stabilize the shareholding of large companies.

Its major activities are :

  • Innovation funding,
  • Garantees on bank financing and venture capital,
  • Investment and operational cycle financing of the SME (small and medium enterprises) and midcap companies, alongside banking and financial institution
  • Equity investment, directly or through partner funds, in SME, midcap companies and large companies.
  • Supplying of all the financial products supporting export, mainly from Ubifrance and Coface, through the Bpifrance Export label.
  • Acting in the French Regions, Bpifrance relies on a decentralized network of 37 regional offices, being in direct contact with the entrepreneurs and their partners : 90% of the decision making is located in the regional offices.

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