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European Investment Fund and Fraunhofer join forces to establish joint technology transfer fund in Germany

    Date: 26 February 2019

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are launching a EUR 60 million Fraunhofer Tech Transfer Fund under the European Commission’s InnovFin programme. The fund is supported by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, EFSI, the heart of the Juncker Plan.

The aim is to commercialize the intellectual property generated at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft from its 72 thematic Fraunhofer Institutes across Germany. The agreement is also supported by InnovFin, the European programme for innovative small and medium businesses. The two complementary partners – the EIF as an expert in fund structures and Fraunhofer as Europe's largest application-oriented research institution –aim to bridge the gap in early commercialization phases to develop more high-tech start-ups in Germany and Europe.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Technology transfer is of paramount importance if we want to keep Europe in pole position in the field of innovation. This tech transfer fund will help German researchers take the product of their work to the market and make Germany's industry more innovative and competitive. This is another example of the Juncker Plan's added value in the country." 

Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, president of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft said: ”Spin-offs are a key vehicle for the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft to exploit its intellectual property rights. They form an important and, above all, effective bridge between research and industry, and they act as a direct catalyst for the transfer of innovation. For Germany, as a hotbed of innovation, it is therefore vital that we increase the level of financial support for research spin-offs and place this on a firm footing. In setting up Fraunhofer Technologie Transfer Fonds GmbH, we are not only supporting young entrepreneurs from the research community during a critical phase but also making an important contribution to the transfer of new technology from the laboratory to the economy.”

EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert commented: “We are delighted to launch this Technology Transfer fund in Germany, with Europe’s largest applied research organisation - Fraunhofer. Germany remains underserved in terms of Technology Transfer funds, in particular, for investments in capital-intensive sectors such as advanced materials or manufacturing digitalisation due to limited appetite from private investors.

EU resources play a catalytic role allowing these funds to reach meaningful sizes while contributing to Germany's Technology Transfer and Venture Capital market.”

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is an integral part of the German innovation system, the largest applied research organisation in Europe and a model for applied research organisations worldwide. This is the first time that the EIF is promoting technology transfer from a public research body in Germany.

Fraunhofer Technologie Transfer Fonds GmbH, a company specially established for this purpose, will have an exclusive opportunity to identify and finance spin-offs and licensing models from Fraunhofer institutes at an early stage of the innovation process. By providing funding for spin-offs and licensing models from Fraunhofer institutes, Fraunhofer Technologie Transfer Fonds GmbH will also create incentives for the research community to take its findings to market. Instruments for subsequent phases such as the High-Tech-Gründerfonds are already established.

Comprehensive spin-off strategy

A successful increase in the number of spin-offs as well as a sustainable participation strategy in spin-offs are declared goals of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The new fund is divided into various measures of the start-up strategy of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, which also includes the new AHEAD funding program.

The fund benefits from the InnovFin Equity Facility for Early Stage with the financial backing of Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme. In addition, the fund benefits amongst others from the ERP-EIF Facility, a joint Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany (BMWi) and EIF initiative to support financing of SMEs and start-ups in Germany.

About Fraunhofer Tech Transfer Fund

Fraunhofer Technologie Transfer Fonds GmbH, a company specially established, will have an exclusive opportunity to identify and finance spin-offs and licensing models from Fraunhofer institutes at an early stage of the innovation process. This alliance with the EIF and the establishment of Fraunhofer Technologie Transfer GmbH will strengthen Fraunhofer’s role as a pioneer and driving force for innovation in the German science and research community.

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 the Investment Plan for Europe

The Investment Plan for Europe, known as the “Juncker Plan”, is one of the European Commission’s top priorities. It focuses on boosting investment to generate jobs and growth by making smarter use of new and existing financial resources, removing obstacles to investment, and providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects.

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is the main pillar of the Juncker Plan and provides first loss guarantees, enabling the EIB to invest in more projects that often come with greater risks. EFSI has already yielded tangible results. The projects and agreements approved for financing under EFSI are expected to mobilise almost 380 billion euros in investments, including 35.2 billion euros in Germany, and support 842 000 SMEs in the 28 Member States.

About InnovFin Equity

This investment is supported by InnovFin Equity with the financial backing of the European Union under Horizon 2020, the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014–2020). Through or alongside selected Venture Capital (VC), Business Angels (BA), Technology Transfer funds and funds-of-funds, the EU provides risk capital financing to enterprises, research organisations, universities in their proof-of-concept, pre-seed, seed, start-up and other early-stage phases allowing them to set up or reach their next stage of development.

InnovFin Equity investments, deployed by the European Investment Fund (EIF), can represent up to 50% of the total commitment made by the financial intermediary, who shall demonstrate a high policy fit by targeting in its investment strategy sectors covered by Horizon 2020 including ICT, medical technologies, biotechnologies, green technologies, nanotechnologies, etc. In addition, the facility has been designed to support Horizon 2020 objectives addressing societal challenges such as those related to resource efficiency, bio-economy, health and demographics, and climate change.

About ERP-EIF Facility

Since its launch in 2004, the ERP-EIF Fund of Funds, as part of the ERP-EIF Facility, plays an important role in start-up funding in Germany. It participates in venture capital funds which invest in technology firms in the early and growth phase. The European Angels Fund, which is also financed with money from the ERP-EIF Facility, complements this with cofinancing for investments by selected, experienced business angels. These funding services have been supplemented since March 2016 by the ERP-EIF Growth Facility, which covers the growth-phase segment. Together with the funding for the Growth Facility, the total volume of these three venture capital instruments is 3.2 billion euros. The ERP-EIF Facility supports financial intermediaries that provide equity financing to companies with a particular focus on German SMEs and start-ups.

David Yormesor
Tel.: + 352 42 66 88 346
E-Mail: d.yormesor@eif.org

Note: Following the recent withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, we are updating the relevant EIF.org pages.


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