EUR 96 million of EIF and aws finance for innovative businesses in Austria

Vienna (OTS) - At the occasion of the Austrian EU Presidency Conference “Innovative Enterprise Vienna 2018”, the European Investment Fund (EIF) and the Austrian promotional bank Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws) have signed an additional up to EUR 48 million counter-guarantee as an extension to the existing InnovFin agreement enabling a new guarantee portfolio of up to EUR 96 million. The transaction benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. The EU’s support for innovative Austrian companies under this transaction is expected to finance an additional c. 150 innovative SMEs.

In times when access to finance remains an important hurdle for innovation, this cooperation is a testimony of the EU's long-standing commitment to invest in innovative SMEs. The combination of aws guarantees with counter-guarantees backed by EU-programs will enable aws to continue providing guarantees at reduced rates over the next two years. EIF’s counter-guarantee is provided under the “EU InnovFin finance for Innovators” initiative with the financial backing under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

The goal of “Innovative Enterprise Vienna 2018” is to provide an overview and insight of existing and future European support instruments especially those that support innovative SMEs. The conference also focuses on guarantee and equity instruments.

European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, said: "I welcome this new agreement supported by the Juncker Plan and Horizon 2020. It means fresh financing for Austrian innovative small and medium businesses – which is precisely what they need to launch new products, hire new staff and expand beyond their local markets.”

Speaking during the event, EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert, commented: “I am delighted to be signing this extension agreement, to support innovative businesses. This additional risk capacity represents very significant new support for Austrian SMEs. The EU-supported guarantee will enable aws to offer more favourable conditions to its client base that will help them develop and grow their businesses”.

Austrian Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs Margarete Schramböck, said: “In a challenging economic environment, it is our goal to support Austrian SME and small mid-caps and their innovative abilities. With this new extension agreement, aws can increase its guarantee volumes and reduce its guarantee fees. This will be of benefit to domestic SMEs and will upscale their competitiveness and innovation capacities”.

aws Managing Director Bernhard Sagmeister, underlined: “aws, as the Austrian national promotional bank, has a long-standing relationship with EIF since 1998. It started with the guarantee business and was also extended to equity initiatives. For aws it is of special importance to enhance our instruments through the combination with European funds and to develop new initiatives jointly. We are pleased to further intensify our cooperation with the EIB group”.

Background information:

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. More information on EIF's work under the EFSI is available here.

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 equity as well as consultancy services from the start-up to expansion phase. Innovative SMEs wishing to apply for finance under the InnovFin programme can directly contact aws under the following website:

About the Investment Plan for Europe

The Investment Plan for Europe - the Juncker Plan - focuses on boosting investments to create 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 central pillar of the Juncker Plan. It provides a first loss guarantee, allowing the EIB group to invest in more projects. The projects and agreements approved for financing under the EFSI so far are expected to mobilise more than EUR 360 billion in investments and support around 850,000 SMEs across all 28 Member States. The latest figures on EFSI by sector and country can be found here.

About InnovFin

The InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility provides guarantees and counter-guarantees on debt financing of between EUR 25,000 and EUR 7.5 million in order to improve access to financing 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.

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