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EUR 290m in EU support for SMEs in Austria following EIF and aws agreement

    Date: 13 March 2015

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws) have signed the first COSME and InnovFin SME Guarantee agreements with funding from the European Union to support Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Mid-caps in Austria. The COSME agreement will provide aws with a counter-guarantee allowing the organisation to increase its guarantee volumes to SMEs with limited collateral available to EUR 170m over the next 2 years.

Over 1,500 companies are expected to benefit from this transaction. EIF already supports aws under CIP, the predecessor programme of COSME, which benefitted more than 1,300 Austrian SMEs. The new InnovFin agreement allows aws, an Austrian federal development and financing bank, to support a total of EUR 120m of guarantees to innovative companies in Austria over the next 2 years. These guarantees will be supported by a counter-guarantee provided by the EIF and are backed under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

This is the first InnovFin SME counter-guarantee signature in Europe and will enable aws to offer innovative companies access to additional financing at favourable conditions. Speaking at the signature ceremony in Vienna, EIF Deputy Chief Executive, Marjut Santoni said: “I am delighted to be announcing the first COSME and InnovFin guarantee agreements in Austria with aws. aws is one of EIF’s long-term partners and I am confident that they will ensure that these new COSME and InnovFin agreements will benefit SMEs and contribute to stimulating innovation and growth in Austria”.

Vice-Chancellor Federal Minister, Reinhold Mitterlehner, commented: “In a challenging economic environment, it is our goal to support Austrian SME and midcaps and their innovative abilities. With these two new agreements the aws can increase its guarantee volumes and reduce its guarantee fees. This will be of benefit to domestic SME and upscale their competitiveness and innovational strength”.

EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska said: “Access to finance remains an important hurdle for SMEs. I want to use the financing possibilities of our COSME programme efficiently, to promote entrepreneurship for SMEs.”

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "This first deal in Austria under InnovFin SME Guarantee is a testimony of the EU's firm commitment to invest in innovation in SMEs, which are the lifeblood of the Austrian and the EU economy. Innovating SMEs create opportunities, growth and a better quality of life, which is good for Austria and for Europe."

aws Chairman, Bernhard Sagmeister, underlined: “It is especially important for us to make our instruments more attractive through the combination with European funds. COSME and InnovFin are prime examples: All our guarantee programs will improve thanks to these two counter-guarantees backed by EU-programs. We are able to offer an increased volume of guarantees with better conditions”.

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 8.8bn at end 2014. With investments in over 500 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 350 operations at end 2014, positioning it as a major European SME guarantees actor and a leading micro-finance guarantor.

About AWS

Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH (aws) is the Austrian government promotional bank. aws offers Austrian companies financial assistance in the form of loans, guarantees, grants and/or equity as well as consultancy services from the start-up to expansion phase. SMEs wishing to apply for finance under the COSME programme can directly contact aws under the following website: www.awsg.at/cosme


COSME is the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) running from 2014 to 2020. With a total budget of €2.3bn, COSME (mobilises loans and equity investments to SMEs in Europe. The COSME Loan Guarantee Facility (LGF) funds guarantees and counter-guarantees to financial institutions to help them provide more loans and lease finance mainly up to EUR 150,000 to SMEs. This facility also includes securitisation of SME debt finance portfolios. The COSME programme also invests through the COSME Equity Facility for Growth (EFG) in equity funds that provide risk capital to SMEs mainly in the expansion and growth stages. The COSME programme builds on the success of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (2007-2013) which helped to mobilise more than EUR 18 bn of loans and EUR 3 bn of venture capital to over 350,000 SMEs in Europe. Businesses can contact selected financial institutions in their country to get access to EU financing: www.access2finance.eu

About InnovFin SME Guarantee

InnovFin SME Guarantee provides guarantees and counter-guarantees on debt financing of between EUR 25,000 and EUR 7.5m, 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 (EIF), 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 EIF against a proportion of their losses incurred on the debt financing. 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.

Press contacts:

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

AWS: Matthias Bischof, tel.: +43 664 42 99 143, e-mail: m.bischof@awsg.at


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