The European Investment Fund (EIF) and UniCredit have signed a contract to expand the InnovFin guarantee for SMEs, in order to increase access to financing for innovative small and medium-sized firms and mid-caps in eight countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
This new deal will allow UniCredit to offer an extra funding of EUR 340 million, through its banks and leasing entities, to innovative companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Serbia.
The additional financing comes on top of the initially agreed portfolio of EUR 160 million. Thus, SMEs and mid-caps in these countries will be able to access funds of half a billion euros.
The transaction benefits from the support of Horizon 2020, EU’s framework programme for research and innovation, as well as of the European Strategic Investment Fund (ESIF), the central pillar of the Europe’s Investment Plan.
The vice-president of the European Commission, Jyrki Katainen, responsible for employment, development, investments and competitiveness said: “The European Strategic Investment Fund’s geographical coverage is extremely important and we are glad that, after the agreement with UniCredit, six countries in Central and Eastern Europe will benefit. SMEs in these countries and in two neighbouring countries can now apply at UniCredit for loans from the EU budget to start or develop their businesses.”
Banks in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia will be supported by the guarantee from EIF and Horizon 2020, while those in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania will rely on the support of ESIF.
Carlo Vivaldi, the head of UniCredit’s CEE division, said: “By growing this facility, we can continue to encourage the development of innovative SMEs in our countries, offering easy access to financing and encouraging the development of local economies. This confirms our commitment to our clients in CEE.”