Brussels, 3 October 2012
New EU loan guarantee facility for innovative SMEs launched in Austria
The European Commission has today welcomed the commercial launch in Austria of a new European Union loan guarantee facility for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Risk Sharing Instrument (RSI), developed by the European Commission in partnership with the European Investment Bank Group, will help small firms gain access to finance by guaranteeing some of the risk that banks take on through their lending. The European Investment Fund, which is managing the facility, today signed a first RSI agreement with UniCredit Bank Austria to support up to €120 million of lending over the next two years.
European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "We are committed to supporting innovative SMEs, both directly through our research programmes and indirectly through our risk sharing instruments with the European Investment Bank Group. This is the first of a number of agreements to come under the RSI. Furthermore, we are proposing a dedicated SME facility from 2014 under our future research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020."
EIF Chief Executive Richard Pelly said: “Within a very short period this new European Commission facility is being implemented and further agreements are expected to be signed across Europe in the coming months. Through the provision of a 50% guarantee, EIF will be assisting UniCredit Bank Austria to channel much needed finance efficiently to innovative businesses and to help stimulate the Austrian economy."
UniCredit Bank Austria is the first bank in Europe to offer RSI-backed loans, but others are expected to follow before year end. Banks are being selected by the EIF following a call for expressions of interest from financial intermediaries. The RSI aims to encourage banks to provide loans and leases of between €25,000 and €7.5 million to SMEs and small mid-caps undertaking research, development or innovation, and seeking finance for investments and/or working capital.
Some 10 or so banks are expected to be involved in the RSI pilot phase, which is underpinned with €120 million from the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7). This should allow the RSI to reach up to 1,000 beneficiaries with a total loan volume of up to €1.0 billion. More details about RSI are available on: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/guarantees/RSI/index.htm