Following the launch of the Risk-Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF), an innovative financing tool to support higher risk financing for projects in the area of research, development and innovation, on June 5th by Janez Potocnik, Commissioner for Research, and Philippe Maystadt, President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), the first operation using the Risk Sharing Finance Facility – RSFF has been signed in Brussels today.
EIB President Philippe Maystadt signed the loan contract with Professor List, Chairman and CEO of AVL List GmbH, one of the principal Austrian technology companies in the presence of Deputy Director General Daniel Jacob, European Commission – DG for Research. Maystadt said: "This RSFF loan to AVL demonstrates the Bank’s and the EC’s commitment to support innovative companies not only in Austria but also throughout the entire EU that are the key drivers of European competitiveness. This is possible thanks to the fruitful cooperation between the European Commission and the EIB which are providing capital contributions and professional expertise to support RDI projects fostering the implementation of the Lisbon Agenda".
"Europe needs to find ways to boost investment in research, development and innovation, particularly from private companies and RSFF is one of the most exciting new ideas in the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme" commented European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik on the occasion of the signature.
The EUR 30 million loan provided to AVL List GmbH, Austria will finance research and experimental developments from 2007 to 2009 in the areas of powertrain technologies and related instrumentation and testing systems. The project is focused on the development of clean and efficient automotive powertrains focused on the decrease of emissions with positive implication for the reduction of the impact of transport on climate change. The project also involves research in the areas of hydrogen fuel cell technology, nanocomposites and engine technologies improving energy efficiency.
AVL is a leading, family owned technology and engineering specialist focusing on powertrain/engine and related instrumentation technologies. With approx. 3,400 employees and a successful track record of providing leading edge technologies for more than 50 years, the company offers R&D support to many major car manufacturers worldwide. Guided by its CEO Prof. Dr. Dipl. Ing. Helmut List, AVL has developed several innovative break-through powertrain technologies and has established a strong reputation in fuel saving technologies for powertrain systems, which should contribute in combination with the company’s strong network of cooperation partners to the achievement of European objectives of higher energy efficiency and lower CO2 emissions from transport.
Furthermore, AVL is a leading coordinator of the European Technology Platform for Embedded Systems (ARTEMIS) and also participated in numerous EU supported projects under the second to the sixth framework program.
The new Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF) will make more financing available for promoters of research and innovation projects, which often face more difficulties than traditional business sectors in accessing finance due to the relatively high levels of uncertainty and risk inherent to their activity. As such, RSFF will provide for higher risk debt financing, targeting companies of any size and ownership, notably the innovative small or medium sized companies, including the large group of midcap companies that are key to European innovation. The implementation of RSFF is now well underway, as is evidenced by the wide range of projects that have been submitted for financing under RSFF in the fields of Engineering and Automotive Industry, the Life Sciences, Renewable Energy as well as a Risk Sharing Bank Facility for SME and Mid Cap financing. Details of the first group of RSFF projects to be financed will be announced shortly.
EIB’s implementation strategy for the Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF) will comprise offering new financial products to the market such as mezzanine financing, research infrastructure loans and risk sharing credit facilities with partner banks to address the specific needs of individual groups of promoters. Furthermore, it focuses on all the sectors identified as key drivers of excellence in European Research, Development and Innovation, that present a significant Lead Market potential in the context of the European Union’s competitiveness strategy. Initial demand has come from Renewable Energies as well as the Engineering, Manufacturing and Automotive sector. Priority has been given to the development of these sectors as well as Life Sciences including Biotechnology, Information and Communication Technology and European Research Infrastructures. Significant additional demand is also expected from all the sectors prioritised under the Lisbon agenda and the FP7: European Technology Platforms (ETPs) and Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs).
EIB intends to implement RSFF in close collaboration with all major EU national and regional banks, which are providing support to the development of European companies. The RSFF facility will significantly increase the EIB’s value added by participating in the credit risk of these operations thus fostering the capacity of banks and other financial intermediaries to do more business with their clients in the research, development and innovation sectors.
Under RSFF, EIB expects to provide the necessary capital to underpin the expected loans and guarantees by the EIB of some EUR 10 billion over the coming 7 years and has based on the EUR 2 billion funding that the European Commission through the 7th Framework Programme, and the EIB have reserved for this purpose.
The support to the implementation of the EU’s Lisbon Strategy, which aims to create a more competitive European economy based on knowledge and innovation, is an EIB lending priority. The EIB, whose financing contributes to furthering the policies of the EU, has so far lent more than EUR 46 billion to finance investment projects contributing to the Lisbon Agenda of which some 35 billion for RDI projects.
For more information see www.eib.org/innovfin
You can also refer to the European Commission’s RSFF website: http://ec.europa.eu/invest-in-research/funding/funding02_en.htm