>@NV Bekaert SA
©NV Bekaert SA

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed a financing deal with NV Bekaert SA in Belgium. The EIB will support Bekaert in fostering and reinforcing its competitive position on a global scale with a total of EUR 75 million for a 3-year innovation programme. The deal falls within the InnovFin program, launched by the European Investment Bank together with the EU to help safeguard Europe’s economic future by spurring investment in research and innovation projects.

In its first deal with NV Bekaert SA, the EIB recognises the importance of such a long-standing yet highly innovative company for the recovery of the economy in the EU. The Belgian enterprise is on the forefront of technological developments and is a worldwide player, their products being used in many different sectors, ranging from the automotive industry to construction, the energy field and consumer goods.

Founded in Zwevegem in 1880, Bekaert is a world market and technology leader in steel wire transformation and coating technologies with headquarters in Belgium. Employing around 30,000 people worldwide, it serves customers in 120 countries. The company is heavily engaged in R&D, attested by its 400 staff in this field and RDI expenditures of EUR 59 million in 2014, thus contributing the EU’s competitiveness in the sector. Overall, Bekaert holds more than 1500 patents in different fields and continues to build its portfolio, often in co-creation with customers and suppliers.

“Bekaert really is a model company for the way it has grown and expanded throughout the world. For the European Investment Bank, it is a priority to support research and development projects for cutting-edge industrial companies. Having innovative enterprises like Bekaert at the forefront of global competitiveness is crucial for Europe.” said EIB Vice-President Van Ballekom commenting on the signing of the deal.

The project will allow Bekaert to reinforce its RDI efforts - focusing on the development of new materials for the automotive industry and research into improved manufacturing processes. Part of the project concerns improving energy intensive manufacturing processes as well as the development of more environmentally friendly applications, such as wire coatings that avoid the use of toxic materials throughout the value chain. These improvements will contribute towards environmental goals in line with the Europe 2020 strategy, while allowing Bekaert to provide more value for its customers and reinforce its competitive position.

The agreement with Bekaert follows similar loans for innovation projects that the EIB provided over the course of the last years. Overall, in 2014 the EIB helped the financing of innovative projects in various sectors throughout the EU with a total of around EUR 14.7 billion in loans and guarantees. The Bekaert operation is supported by ‘InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators’ InnovFin Large Projects, with the financial backing of the European Union under Horizon 2020 Financial Instruments”

Background information about the EIB and InnovFin:

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals. The EIB financing for Bekaert is specifically supported by the InnovFin Large Projects instrument, which has been developed to improve access to risk finance for R&I projects.

Under Horizon 2020, the new EU research programme for 2014-20, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank Group (EIB and EIF) have launched a new generation of financial instruments and advisory services to help innovative firms access finance more easily. Over the next seven years, "InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators" will offer a range of tailored products which will make available more than EUR 24bn of financing support for research and innovation (R&I) by small, medium and large companies and the promoters of research infrastructures. This finance is expected to support up to EUR 48bn of final R&I investments.

Backed by funds set aside under Horizon 2020 and by the EIB Group, InnovFin financial products support R&I activities, which by nature are riskier and harder to assess than traditional investments, and therefore often face difficulties in accessing finance. All are demand-driven instruments, with no prior allocations between sectors, countries or regions. Firms and other entities located in EU Member States and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries will be eligible as final beneficiaries. These debt instruments will be complemented in the near future by a suite of equity instruments managed by the EIF.

InnovFin Large Projects aims to improve access to risk finance for R&I projects emanating from larger firms, universities and public research organisations, R&I infrastructures (including innovation-enabling infrastructures), public-private partnerships, and special-purpose vehicles or projects (including those promoting first-of-a-kind, commercial-scale industrial demonstration projects). Loans and guarantees from EUR 25m to EUR 300m will be delivered directly by the EIB.