EIF, UniCredit provide EUR 160 mln to innovative SMEs

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The European Investment Fund (EIF) and UniCredit have signed an InnovFin SME guarantee facility to enhance access to finance for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-caps in eight countries, including Hungary, according to a press statement sent to the Budapest Business Journal today. 

The transaction benefits from the support of Horizon 2020, the EUʼs Framework Program for Research and Innovation, and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the European Commissionʼs Investment Plan for Europe, according to the press statement.

This agreement will allow UniCredit, via its banks, to offer additional financing worth EUR 160 million to innovative companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Serbia.

Banks in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia will benefit from the support of a guarantee provided by the EIF and backed under Horizon 2020, while guarantee agreements with banks in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania will be backed by the Investment Plan for Europe.

“This agreement is excellent news for innovative small companies across these eight countries. The additional EUR 160 million in financing that will be made available from this agreement demonstrates that the Investment Plan is playing a crucial role in achieving the Commissionʼs objective of providing the support that will allow SMEs to create jobs, innovate and grow,” said Jyrki Katainen, European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness.

“This umbrella SME guarantee agreement will be instrumental in helping countries in the Western Balkans and Eastern European regions to foster innovation and entrepreneurship. I am confident that UniCredit’s network of banks in these eight countries will target high-growth potential companies, which will be able to translate the additional financing received into growth and job creation,” said EIF Chief Executive Pier Luigi Gilibert.

“We are strongly committed to supporting SMEs in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Thanks to the new umbrella facility and our extensive network, we can further facilitate the development of innovative SMEs across different countries where our clients will have easier access to finance and will benefit from better pricing,” added Carlo Vivaldi, Head of CEE Division at UniCredit.

The transaction reflects the EUʼs commitment to rapidly launch concrete initiatives aiming to accelerate lending and guarantee transactions capable of boosting jobs and growth in the EU, said the press release.

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