Coronavirus: Commission and European Investment Fund unlock €100 million for businesses

  • New terms under InnovFin Equity to step-up support for the venture capital market
  • EUR 100 million Recovery Equity Facility for Innovative Technology companies (RE-FIT) to support business impacted by COVID-19

The venture capital (VC) market and innovative companies impacted by the coronavirus will benefit from new measures developed and supported by the European Investment Fund (EIF), part of the European Investment Bank Group and the European Commission. The two institutions have developed a set of measures supporting the VC market through the existing InnovFin Equity Facility under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, to provide additional investment capacity to fund managers, which will translate into additional liquidity and the strengthening of the capital base of European SMEs and small mid-cap companies hit by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and facing solvency issues.

In concrete terms, the new measures help InnovFin Equity fund managers affected by COVID-19 to reach their viable fund sizes and accelerate the availability of funding for target companies. In addition, a new Recovery Equity Facility for Innovative Technology companies (RE-FIT) is being launched as part of InnovFin under Horizon 2020. The EUR 100 million RE-FIT Facility will provide top-up investment capacity to existing fund managers under InnovFin Equity to further support their portfolio companies negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. 

European Commissioner, Mariya Gabriel said: “Small and medium businesses form the backbone of the European economy and at the same time they are among the ones most exposed to disruption in the current coronavirus crisis. I am very pleased that today, together with the European Investment Fund, we are stepping up our support for the venture capital market, in view of providing supplementary liquidity to SMEs that have thinner reserves and limited financial alternatives. We will continue our efforts, through the InnovFin and Horizon 2020, to ensure that these businesses endure and come out strong from the crisis, while at the same time supporting sustained employment and the conditions needed for innovation and future growth

EIF Chief Executive, Alain Godard said: “In times of unprecedented crisis it is essential that tech companies can receive investments to weather the storm. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many financial intermediaries will not be able to close their funds or reach the viable sizes, thus impacting the availability of equity finance to startups and scaleups. As part of the policy response to address the economic disruption caused by COVID-19, the increased anchor role of EIF in InnovFin and the additional EUR 100m through RE-FIT will help to mitigate the negative effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the financial situation of the portfolio companies invested by equity funds.”

Today’s announcement follows up on the Commission’s commitment of 13 March to bring immediate relief to hard-hit enterprises and is part of the package of measures announced by the EIB Group on 16 March to rapidly mobilise support for Europe’s SMEs and mid-caps.

The measures will be accessible to new as well as existing financial intermediaries already working with EIF, who will extend the special conditions to more than a hundred of technology companies benefitting from the InnovFin programme.


Next steps:

The InnovFin Equity Covid-19 Support Measures is now available to the market and rolled out based on an amended InnovFin Equity Call for expression of interest published on EIF website.

Financial intermediaries with existing EIF agreements under InnovFin Equity can access this new equity finance as well.

The Commission and the EIB Group will continue to work on additional measures and will use all the tools at their disposal to help contain the coronavirus pandemic and address its economic consequences.

Background information:

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 by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops both 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.

InnovFin Equity managed by the EIF – is part of “InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators”, an initiative launched by the European Commission (EC) and the EIB Group within the framework of Horizon 2020. InnovFin Equity provides equity investments and co-investments to or alongside investment funds, focusing on companies in their early stages of development, operating in innovative sectors covered by Horizon 2020. The aim is to develop an extensive portfolio of funds, mobilising a total amount of EUR 4-5bn worth of investments in businesses established or active in the EU and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries.

Horizon 2020 is the EU programme for Research and Innovation running from 2014 to 2020 with a total budget of €77 billion. Under Horizon 2020, InnovFin – the EU Finance for Innovators – financial instruments aim to facilitate and accelerate access to finance for innovative businesses across Europe.

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