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    The European Fund for Strategic Investments and its Junker Plan investments allow the EIB to support smaller projects, including start-ups

    Three years ago the European Union launched the ‘Juncker Plan,’ known as the Investment Plan for Europe. The backbone of the plan was a guarantee from the EU budget and a big pot of investment money from the European Investment Bank. The aim: to underwrite riskier investments by the EU bank and, thus, boost Europe’s economy.

    The plan has worked and is on course to mobilize the projected EUR 315 billion of investment envisioned during this year. The plan has allowed the EIB Group to reach out to smaller firms than it dealt with in the past, and to reach more innovators across Europe. In fact, last year the EIB Group approved a record 901 projects, an increase of 15% year-on-year.

    This is what we call ‘granularity’—the portfolio is made up of a larger variety of projects. All our eggs are not in the same basket. And some of these eggs may hatch into unicorns. The success of the plan has been such that the EU extended it for another two years and raised the bar, aiming for a new goal of EUR 500 billion of investment mobilized.

    To do this, we are really putting Europe under the microscope to find the market gaps, even as overall investment levels are picking up, and to find the smaller firms that could hold the key to the continent’s future economic growth. Like gold diggers, we are using a finer sieve to seek out the valuable nuggets that can most benefit from our support.

    That’s important because the market gaps are still there and smaller firms are most likely to fall through the cracks. Our start-up cartoon “The Brood” attempts to illustrate the challenges smaller firms face. It also illustrates some of the characters that you may find hatching out of your granular portfolio. But we love them all equally, of course.