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First InnovFin transactions in Norway as EIF and Innovation Norway sign agreements to support SMEs

    Date: 23 January 2017

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and the National Promotional Institution (NPI) of Norway, Innovation Norway, have signed the first InnovFin SME Guarantee agreement and the first InnovFin SME Counter-Guarantee agreement in Norway to enhance access to finance for innovative Norwegian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The two agreements benefit from the support of a guarantee provided by EIF and backed under Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme.

Thanks to the EU’s support, EIF is providing a direct guarantee supporting NOK 900 million (ca. EUR 100.4 million) of loans and a counter-guarantee supporting NOK 300 million (ca. EUR 33.5 million) of guarantees which, in turn, will support up to NOK 400 million (ca. EUR 44.6 million) of loans to innovative SMEs over the next two years. The two agreements will enable Innovation Norway to improve their two products. The ‘Innovation Loans’ provide direct funding to innovative SMEs to finance projects related to innovation, restructuring, development, growth and internationalisation. The ‘Growth Guarantee’ supports commercial banks in Norway by providing a guarantee that encourages these commercial banks to lend to the SMEs lacking sufficient collateral. Over 350 SMEs are expected to benefit from the financing that will be made available through the two agreements.

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “Thanks to loan agreements under Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme, Norwegian SMEs have an additional source of finance for the development of their innovation activities. This can lead to socio-economic, technological and scientific benefits across the EU, as Norway's creative and entrepreneurial spirit can serve as an example to many other European nations.”

Monica Mæland, Norwegian Minister for Enterprise and Innovation said: “I am happy that Innovation Norway can sign an agreement with EIF that increases lending to innovative Norwegian enterprises. This will give small and medium sized companies enhanced possibilities for growth and employment. The government’s aim is to increase growth and jobs.”

Speaking at the signature event in Oslo, EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert said: “Today’s transactions mark EIF’s first InnovFin signatures in Norway. This is excellent news for Norwegian SMEs, as over 350 small businesses will benefit from the finance made available. I am delighted that we are able to extend our InnovFin support also to Norway, and generally to see EIF enhancing its presence in the Nordic countries.”

“Norwegian businesses and entrepreneurs have identified a lack of funding for companies with growth potential as one of the main obstacles for developing new growth industries in Norway”, says Anita Krohn Traaseth, CEO of Innovation Norway. “This agreement goes a long way to alleviate that problem, and allows us to provide enhanced access to financing for SMEs that are so important to the restructuring of Norwegian business and industry.”

The aim of the two agreements is to encourage banks or other financial institutions to lend to SMEs and small mid-caps (up to 499 employees) in need of investment and/or operating capital to finance research, development and innovation activities, with EU financial support. Financial institutions are being selected by EIF following a call for expression of interest for financial intermediaries across Europe.

About EIF

The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the European Investment Bank group. Its central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance 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.

About Innovation Norway

Innovation Norway is the Norwegian Government's most important instrument for innovation and development of Norwegian enterprises and industry. Innovation Norway supports companies in developing their competitive advantage and to enhance innovation, and creates value by stimulating profitable business development throughout Norway. Innovation Norway’s services are intended to create more successful entrepreneurs, more enterprises with capacity for growth and more innovative business clusters. Norway is a full member of the Horizon 2020 program, which means that Norwegian companies and research centres may participate on the same terms as partners and competitors from other European countries.

About InnovFin

The InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility is established under the “InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators” initiative backed by Horizon 2020. It provides guarantees and counter-guarantees on debt financing of between EUR 25 000 and EUR 7.5 million in order to improve access to loan finance for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises and small mid-caps (up to 499 employees). The facility is managed by 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 EIF against a proportion of their losses incurred on the debt financing covered under the facility.

Press contacts:

EIF: David Yormesor
Tel.: + 352 24 85 81 346, E-Mail: d.yormesor@eif.org

Innovation Norway: Kjetil Svorkmo Bergmann
Tel.: + 47 908 20 918, E-Mail: kjber@innovationnorway.no

European Commission: Joseph Waldstein
Tel.: + 32 (0)2 29 56 184, E-Mail: joseph.waldstein@ec.europa.eu


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