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A new instrument specifically targeting innovation financing is now available for medium-sized companies in Europe. The Growth Finance Initiative (GFI) provides loans of up to EUR 25 million to mid-cap companies focusing on industry sectors that heavily rely on research, development and innovation (RDI). The first loan under the new scheme was signed today in Liège with the Belgian company EVS broadcast equipment S.A. (EVS).

EVS provides its customers with reliable and innovative technology to enable the production of live, enriched video programming. Its industry-leading broadcast and media production systems are used by broadcasters, production companies, post-production facilities, film studios, content owners and archive libraries around the globe. It spans four key markets – Sports, Entertainment, News and Media. EVS’ annual RDI investments generally constitute between 15 and 20 per cent of the company’s revenues. About half of its ca. 500 employees work in the R&D department.

The Growth Finance Initiative is jointly established by the EIB and the European Commission under the Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF). Set up by the EIB and financially supported by the EU, RSFF was launched in 2007 in order to foster additional investment in RDI as well as to address the markets’ failure in allocating sufficient resources to RDI. Within the new framework of the Growth Finance Initiative the Bank can provide direct financing to innovative mid-cap companies that outgrow the remit of venture capitalists but often face a systematic shortage of debt and equity financing for their RDI activities. Mid-caps are medium-sized companies with up to 3000 employees that frequently prove to be particularly strong on innovation. In this pilot phase of the GFI, capital support of EUR 150 million will be available.

The GFI scheme allows for a variety of financing solutions ranging from senior secured debt to mezzanine financing. Under the Growth Finance Initiative the EIB will provide direct loans of between EUR 7.5 million and EUR 25 million to partly finance companies’ European RDI investments. In the case of this first GFI contract with EVS, a loan of EUR 12 million was signed. In order to swiftly react to companies’ requests, a streamlined application and approval process has been established reducing the time needed to secure financing under the pilot initiative.

In terms of the Bank’s priority objectives, GFI qualifies both under “Knowledge Economy” and “Support to SME/ mid-cap companies.” After providing a total of EUR 13 billion SMEs and midcaps last year, the EIB Group (EIB and European Investment Fund) is endeavoring to markedly increase its lending in this sector to up to EUR 20 billion in 2013. Another EUR 12 to 15bn is earmarked for RDI-investments in the current year.

Pim van Ballekom, EIB’s Vice-President, said on the occasion of signature: “With its strong focus on research, development and innovation, EVS is an ideal candidate for this new financial instrument. The Growth Finance Initiative allows us to provide tailor-made financing solutions to companies that invest above industry average in RDI-intensive sectors. These companies play a pivotal role in Europe’s knowledge economy and they contribute significantly to the EU’s competitiveness. At the same time, they often face difficulties accessing appropriate financial resources. We expect the joint Growth Finance Initiative to help fill this market gap.”

Joop Janssen, EVS’ Chief Executive Officer: “We are very happy to have EIB as key partner for the financing of our R&D program, which includes a brand new R&D center for welcoming hundreds of current and future colleague engineers.”

Jacques Galloy, EVS’ Chief Finance Officer: “We have identified EIB’s GFI initiative as a cornerstone for our R&D program funding next to other commercial banks. Actually, EIB has been a long term partner as it has been instrumental in the development of our 40% affiliate dcinex, leader in pan-European Digital Cinema infrastructure deployment”.