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EIF and Almi sign the first InnovFin SME guarantee agreement in Sweden under Horizon 2020 to finance innovative companies

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    Date: 22 January 2015

EIF and Almi sign the first InnovFin SME guarantee agreement in Sweden under Horizon 2020 to finance innovative companies. The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Almi Företagspartner (Almi) have signed an agreement to increase lending to innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as Small Mid-caps under InnovFin – EU finance for innovators, an initiative supported by the European Commission.

The new agreement allows Almi to provide innovative companies in Sweden with access to a total of SEK 1.2bn (circa. EUR 127.5m) of financing over the next 2 years, with the support of a guarantee provided by the EIF and backed under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. This is the first InnovFin SME guarantee signature in Sweden and the third in Europe since the start of the programme in summer 2014. This agreement will allow Almi to provide enhanced access to finance to entrepreneurs in Sweden, especially those who face difficulties in accessing financing for early stage innovative projects.

Commenting on the signature, EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert said: “I am pleased to be signing our first Swedish InnovFin SME Guarantee agreement here in Stockholm with Almi for the benefit of businesses in Sweden. Almi’s expertise in financing small businesses and start-ups, will ensure that together we can support even more innovative businesses in Sweden over the next two years”.

Mikael Damberg, Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Innovation said: “Sweden is one of the first countries to sign an agreement with EIF to increase lending to innovative Swedish enterprises. This will give small and medium sized companies enhanced possibilities for growth and employment. The government’s aim is that Sweden will have the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union by 2020. In achieving that goal - the innovative companies are very important”.

European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas said: “Sweden has a long tradition of fostering innovation. The InnovFin deal will help augment that tradition by supporting a new source of credit for Swedish SMEs under Horizon 2020 to create jobs and growth.”

Almi, Chief Executive Göran Lundwall added: “Sweden is in the frontline regarding new innovative startups. This agreement will allow us to provide enhanced access to financing for start-ups with growth potential”. The aim of the InnovFin SME Guarantee is to encourage banks or other financial institutions to lend to SMEs and small mid-caps (firms with fewer than 500 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 the EIF following a call for expression of interest for financial intermediaries across Europe.

About Horizon 2020

On 1 January 2014, the European Union launched a new research and innovation funding programme called Horizon 2020. Over the next seven years almost €80 billion will be invested in research and innovation projects to support Europe’s economic competitiveness and extend the frontiers of human knowledge. The EU research budget is focused mainly on improving everyday life in areas like health, the environment, transport, food and energy. Research partnerships with the pharmaceutical, aerospace, car and electronics industries also encourage private-sector investment in support of future growth and high-skilled job creation. "InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators", the new generation of EU financial instruments and advisory services was developed under Horizon 2020 to help innovative firms access finance more easily. "InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators" will help to inject up to EUR 48 billion in investments in Research and Innovation across Europe.

About InnovFin SME Guarantee

InnovFin SME Guarantee is part of InnovFin - EU Finance for Innovators, a new range of EIB Group (including EIF and EIB) products to facilitate access to finance for innovative businesses. This transaction is supported with the financial backing of the European Union under Horizon 2020 Financial Instruments. InnovFin SME Guarantee provides guarantees and counter-guarantees on debt financing of between €25,000 and €7.5 million, in order to improve access to loan finance for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises and small midcaps (up to 499 employees). The InnovFin SME Guarantee is implemented by the European Investment Fund, and will be rolled out through financial intermediaries (banks and other financial institutions) in EU Member States and Associated Countries. Under the InnovFin SME Guarantee, financial intermediaries will be guaranteed by the EIF against a proportion of their losses incurred on the debt financing.

About the EIF

The European Investment Fund's (EIF) 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. EIF’s total net commitments to private equity funds amounted to over EUR 7.9bn at end 2013. With investments in over 435 funds, 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. EIF’s guarantees loan portfolio totalled over EUR 5.6bn in over 300 operations at end 2013, positioning it as a major European SME guarantees actor and a leading micro-finance guarantor.

About Almi

Almi's vision is to create opportunities for all viable ideas and companies to be developed. We offer advisory services, loans and venture capital through all phases of the establishment of a business – from idea to successful company. This includes ideas with potential for growth in the early stages as well as existing companies that are investing in growth and expansion. Almi Företagspartner AB is owned by the Swedish government and is the parent company of a group consisting of 16 regional subsidiaries, Almi Invest AB and IFS Rådgivning AB. With 40 offices across Sweden, we are always close to our customers.

Press contacts:

- EIF: David Yormesor Tel.: +352 42 66 88 346, e-mail: d.yormesor@eif.org

- Almi: Lars Mardbrant Tel. +46 70 3143434, e-mail: lars.mardbrant@almi.se

 

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