The EIB and EIF aim to stimulate the financial sector to support innovation.
he Innovation 2010 Initiative is the response of the EIB and EIF to the Lisbon European Council’s objective to make Europe the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world. Innovative actions are supported either directly, through medium- or long-term loans from the EIB, or indirectly through EIF, notably by support to venture capital funds to invest in SMEs. During the first three years, i2i provided support in five areas: research and development, information and communications technology (ICT) networks, human capital formation, diffusion of innovation, and development of SMEs(1).
EIB’s largest initiative
“By the end of 2003,” says Guy Clausse of the EIB, “the total amount provided from the EIB was over €16 billion. Another €20 billion will be provided by EIB between 2004 and 2006, with EIF finance in addition. We aim to commit at least €50 billion by 2010 – this is one of our major objectives and the only one that goes on until the end of the decade.”
Guy Clausse puts this into the context of the objective set at the Barcelona European Council to raise EU spending on R&D and innovation (RDI) to 3%. “Right now,” he says, “Europe invests about 2% of GDP on RDI, and to reach 3%, spending must go up by €100 billion a year over the whole EU. So the EIB’s €50 billion over the whole decade is not so large in comparison. But well targeted, and together with other policy, educational and regulatory initiatives, it will make a difference. We are also working alongside the European Commission’s extensive, and increasing, funding for research. Finance also comes from private companies and other banks. But the EIB can exert a catalysing influence.”
Three priority areas
The priority areas for the Innovation 2010 Initiative have been regrouped slightly, following the experience of the first three years, and the partial separation of the EIF to take responsibility for dealings with SME equity and loan guarantees. EIB funding under i2i now focuses on:
- Education and training, including lifelong learning and e-learning
- R&D and downstream investment, especially support for private-sector projects, including collaborative pan-European R&D and co-financing of projects supported by the Sixth Research Framework Programme
- Development and dissemination of ICT, especially broadband networks and access technologies, digital terrestrial television platforms and e-services.
The i2i initiative will concentrate more resources on intangible assets, such as training, research, and protection of industrial property. It will maintain priority for projects located in areas covered by the European Regional Development Fund, and will cover the 25 Member States, the candidate countries (Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey), and the Western Balkans. “We also do a lot of bridge-building,” says Guy Clausse, “between the research and the financial communities, which tend to speak in different languages. The EIB is showing that research can be financed with loans, which frees researchers from the constraints of the national economic situation in their country, and builds confidence in their finances.”
Examples of projects supported by i2i in 2003
- Austria: modernisation of hospitals in Styria
- Belgium: construction of Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre in Leuven
- Denmark: Investment in high-speed mobile telecommunications networks and associated infrastructure throughout country
- Finland: R&D on energy efficiency and reducing engine emissions
- France: R&D in advanced semiconductor technologies
- Germany: Creation of a new e-commerce platform accelerating move of tourism industry towards the Information Society
- Germany, Sweden, Czech Republic and Hungary: new automotive research and upgrading of related production facilities
- Greece: Expansion of Athens Concert Hall
- Spain: modernisation and expansion of the primary, secondary schools and universities of Valencia
- Ireland: Construction and operation of facilities of Ringaskiddy National Maritime College, Cork
- Italy: Installation of digital electricity meters and development of supporting infrastructure
- Netherlands: R&D ventures in field of advanced semiconductor technologies
- Portugal: upgrade of mobile telecommunications network
- Romania: rehabilitation and equipping of schools in Bucharest and throughout country
- UK: Construction of BBC digital broadcasting centre in London
(1) See ‘Complementary Funding’, edition 5/01.
- G. Clausse, European Investment Bank
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