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    On Monday, 26 October, some 170 people from across the EU and the Southern neighbourhood participated in the 15th FEMIP Conference. Meeting at the headquarters of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Luxembourg, they discussed issues surrounding ‘Innovation, entrepreneurship and jobs: financing pioneering investments in the Mediterranean region’. The event was organised by the EIB in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the Luxembourgish Presidency of the EU. It took place back-to-back with the UfM Senior Officials’ Meeting the following day.

    During opening addresses, high-level representatives of the three partners highlighted the significant contribution made by SMEs to the Mediterranean region’s economies. SMEs account for some 25% of GDP in the region and up to 80% of the region’s jobs. The role of the EIB in providing finance and other support to such businesses was therefore welcomed, as a central component of policy to develop the private sector. This support is complemented by the UfM’s own extensive work programme, with particular consideration given to activities under the Med4Jobs project. Overall, speakers drew attention to the breadth of areas covered under the label ‘innovation’ – including not only high-tech but also diverse other activities offering new ways of meeting market needs.

    Speakers in the four panels included entrepreneurs, bankers, investors, and representatives of international institutions. The panellists were complemented by strong participation from the audience through question and answer sessions during each of the panels, which covered the topics of:

    • Lending for the private sector – financing throughout the business lifecycle
    • Venture capital and private equity – growth capital for innovative businesses
    • Pioneering instruments – stimulating investment in new market segments
    • Scalability and replicability – seeking solutions and lessons to learn