In  a new study launched today, Professor Mariana Mazzucato, director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London (UCL), and Dr Olga Mikheeva, Research Fellow at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, explore how the EIB and its technical and financial advisory services can support innovation and green growth and actively contribute to the future implementation of the new EU Missions.

Ten years to solve five societal challenges

The European Commission has identified five societal challenges, or missions, over the next decade to solve pressing challenges in society: cancer, climate neutral and smart cities, adaptation to climate change, healthy oceans and soil health and food. These new missions are inspired by 'moonshot' programmes which successfully co-ordinated public and private sectors on a massive scale – such as the Apollo programme that actually put the first man on to the moon – and call for the same level of boldness and experimentation to be applied to the biggest problems of our time.

The EIB is well positioned to support the EU’s research and development missions

Considered as one of the world's most influential economists, Mariana Mazzucato is a strong advocate of mission-oriented innovation policy and the key architect of the EU’s new Missions Framework. The authors examine the EIB activities in the Circular Economy as a case study to explore the Bank’s role in such frameworks. They find that the example of successful deployment of various finance and advisory tools in facilitating the circular transition in Europe should empower the EIB to develop and implement missions. By building up a strategic knowledge base, the EIB’s advisory services and in particular the joint EC-EIB InnovFin Advisory programme – soon to be integrated in the upcoming InvestEU Advisory Hub structure – can also play a catalytic role as ‘change agent’ in new thematic areas.

The authors recommend the EIB to further build on its in-house financial and analytical expertise, to utilise EIB/InnovFin Advisory in ecosystem-building and coordination among national and regional mission-relevant actors for knowledge creation, and to promote higher risk-taking through existing risk-sharing mechanisms (e.g. EFSI, InnovFin) as well as suitable long-term financial instruments.

“A clear opportunity for the EIB to capitalise on its expertise”

Commenting on the study, EIB President Werner noted: “It is with great pleasure that I express my gratitude to Professor Mariana Mazzucato and the UCL Institute for Public Innovation and Purpose for the insights and recommendations in this study. It highlights the EIB’s potential role in delivering the EU’s “Missions” that stand out as beacons of hope in challenging times.” He added that “the Missions and their associated investment agendas provide a clear opportunity for the EIB to capitalise on its long-standing financial, advisory and technical expertise to help future-proof Europe in key strategic areas of its economy and society.”

Professor Mazzucato highlights that ‘Finance is not neutral and mission-oriented finance requires crowding-in different types of private investors and forming new public-private financing partnership. We hope that the ‘COVID moment’ is one that can genuinely help us find ways to ‘walk the talk’ of stakeholder capitalism. Many governments have already included ‘green’ conditionalities in post-COVID support measures, and many more are designing the ways of incentivizing global industrial and financial players to reduce their carbon footprint and prioritise environmentally sustainable business models. The EIB is uniquely positioned to foster mission-oriented thinking within the European financing eco-system, including through its strategic approach to technical and advisory capacities, and particularly through bringing-in national promotional banks from Member States and a variety of private investors.’

You can read the full study here.