News from 13-03-2015

EUR 290m in EU support for SMEs in Austria following EIF and aws agreement


The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws) have signed the first COSME and InnovFin SME Guarantee agreements with funding from the European Union to support Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Mid-caps in Austria. The COSME agreement will provide aws with a counter-guarantee allowing the organisation to increase its available guarantee volumes to SMEs with limited collateral to EUR 170m over the next 2 years.

Over 1,500 companies are expected to benefit from this transaction. EIF already supports aws under CIP, the predecessor programme of COSME, which benefitted more than 1,300 Austrian SMEs. The new InnovFin agreement allows aws, an Austrian federal development and financing bank, to support a total of EUR 120m of guarantees to innovative companies in Austria over the next 2 years. These guarantees will be supported by a counter-guarantee provided by the EIF and are backed under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

This is the first InnovFin SME counter-guarantee signature in Europe and will enable aws to offer innovative companies access to additional financing at favourable conditions. Speaking at the signature ceremony in Vienna, EIF Deputy Chief Executive, Marjut Santoni said: “I am delighted to be announcing the first COSME and InnovFin guarantee agreements in Austria with aws. aws is one of EIF’s long-term partners and I am confident that they will ensure that these new COSME and InnovFin agreements will benefit SMEs and contribute to stimulating innovation and growth in Austria”.

Vice-Chancellor Federal Minister, Reinhold Mitterlehner, commented: “In a challenging economic environment, it is our goal to support Austrian SME and midcaps and their innovative abilities. With these two new agreements the aws can increase its guarantee volumes and reduce its guarantee fees. This will be of benefit to domestic SME and upscale their competitiveness and innovational strength”.

EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska said: “Access to finance remains an important hurdle for SMEs. I want to use the financing possibilities of our COSME programme efficiently, to promote entrepreneurship for SMEs.”

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "This first deal in Austria under InnovFin SME Guarantee is a testimony of the EU's firm commitment to invest in innovation in SMEs, which are the lifeblood of the Austrian and the EU economy. Innovating SMEs create opportunities, growth and a better quality of life, which is good for Austria and for Europe."

aws Chairman, Bernhard Sagmeister, underlined: “It is especially important for us to make our instruments more attractive through the combination with European funds. COSME and InnovFin are prime examples: All our guarantee programs will improve thanks to these two counter-guarantees backed by EU-programs. We are able to offer an increased volume of guarantees with better conditions”.

Source: EIF