Banks finance projects that are bankable—meaning, those that can show considerable proof they will be able to make a profit. That requires more than a good idea. It takes preparation that may be too expensive or complicated for some companies or public institutions. That’s where technical assistance comes in.
The European Commission finances technical assistance programmes to help participants in a range of business sectors. A Dictionary of Finance podcast called on experts from two of these technical assistance programmes to explain how they work.
“Technical assistance is about helping beneficiaries,” says Mark Mawhinney, head of division for the European Investment Advisory Hub. The Hub provides technical assistance under the Investment Plan for Europe and is a partnership between the Commission and the European Investment Bank.
The Hub aims to help fill markets gaps. As Mark explains, a market gap occurs when the private sector is not actively engaging in a particular area, because of a lack of demand or some economic structural problem.
Reinhard Six, senior engineer in the European Investment Bank’s Energy Efficiency and Small-scale Energy Projects division, does a lot of his work under the umbrella of another joint EIB/Commission programme called European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA). For example, that includes energy audits, which are different from the kinds of audits we talked about in our episode on the balance sheet.
An energy audit looks at the energy performance of a building by assessing its technical systems, such as the boiler. It recommends measures to improve the energy efficiency of the building by, for example, replacing the windows.
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