The Innovation 2000 Initiative of the European Investment Bank (EIB)
In June 2000, the EIB launched its "Innovation 2000 Initiative" to further the March 2000 Lisbon European Council's guidelines for developing a knowledge-based society driven by innovation. The "Innovation 2000 Initiative" groups together the EIB's new actions to promote information networks, human capital formation and intangible corporate investment.
Under this initiative, EIB financing will be channeled into the following five areas:
human capital formation
: by financing the provision of schools, colleges and universities with computing equipment and lending in support of IT training centres;
research and development
: by co-financing public or private-sector research programmes, corporate investment in R&D, research infrastructure, centres of excellence and measures enabling SMEs to obtain access to research programmes;
information and communications technology networks
: by financing trans-European broadband and multimedia networks and physical or virtual infrastructure providing local access to such networks, especially in the Union's less advanced regions. The EIB will focus its lending in this field on innovative technology projects such as ADSL, XDSL and UMTS;
diffusion of innovation
: by financing "online healthcare" services and the use of information technologies to bring Europe's citizens closer to local authorities and public services; by helping to equip companies, especially SMEs, with advanced information technologies;
development of SMEs and entrepreneurship
: by strengthening venture capital support for the development of innovative SMEs, fostering science parks and company incubators and launching new products tailored to the business needs of very small enterprises.
Support for these new areas of EIB activity will be provided under a dedicated lending programme of EUR 12 to 15 billion over the next three years. More than simply an increase in the Bank's lending volume, this will represent a qualitative reorientation of the EIB's traditional operations towards sectors with high technological value added having a positive impact on the economy. To this end, the EIB will both broaden the range of its financial instruments and reach out to new partners and customers, especially to take account of the extension of its financing operations to include intangible investment.
At the same time, the EIB is also expanding its activities in support of venture capital facilities for SMEs, with a second tranche of EUR 1 billion for such operations, along with reform of the
European Investment Fund
(EIF) with a view to turning this institution into the EIB Group's specialist venture capital arm. The reserve set up to hedge the risk attaching to such operations from EUR 1 to 2 billion. Funded from the EIB's operating surpluses, this reserve is already endowed with EUR 1 billion drawn from the profit for 1996, 1997 and 1998. It has now been allocated an additional EUR 500 million from the 1999 surplus, and the balance will be drawn from the profits for the years 2000 to 2002 according to needs.