A new World Wide Web homepage on CORDIS, the Community Research and Development Information Service, entitled "Financing Innovation", aims to provide information on all aspects of innovation financing activities, carried out within the INNOVATION programme, part of the EU's Fourth RTD Framework Programme. The gulf between innovative companies and the finance they need to develop is one of the major factors contributing to Europe's "innovation deficit" - whereby successful research fails to translate into successful commercial products. Key elements in the Commission's Innovation Action Plan, aimed at reversing this innovation deficit, are those initiatives aimed at bridging the gap between innovative SMEs and investors. A year and a half after the adoption of the First Action Plan for Innovation in Europe, a wide range of initiatives have been launched and others are well advanced. Under the Action Plan, a major objective of Financing Innovation is to spread information and raise awareness of the mechanisms available for obtaining funding or investing in small high-technology companies. These can make a strong contribution to developing Europe's competitiveness. In Europe, investors rarely consider small companies (unlike in the USA), whilst those launching or growing small companies are very often uncomfortable in the world of finance. The new Financing Innovation homepage aims to provide information for both groups, helping small companies seeking capital to locate those investors interested in backing high-technology SMEs, and giving them advice on how to attune themselves to the capital markets' demands and conditions. For venture capitalists and others seeking to invest money, it details schemes, some supported by the EU, through which capital can be targeted on small companies looking to make the most of innovative products or techniques. Likewise it aims to increase understanding of the research world among financiers. The Commission is also in the process of setting up a help desk - LIFT - which will provide information on issues relating to innovation financing, and should be up and running for the end of 1998. Among the schemes and activities on which information can be found on the Financing Innovation homepage are: - I-TEC, the Innovation and Technology Equity Capital pilot project: this project, launched in mid-1997 in cooperation with the European Investment Fund, aims to encourage investment in high-technology SMEs through building up the capacity of venture capital funds to appraise and manage early stage investment projects; - FIT, a policy exchange project, disseminates good practice concerning the development of durable links between finance, innovation and technology communities, in order to increase mutual understanding; - Where can a company go for finance? The Financing Innovation homepage presents the range of options for small companies looking for finance - venture capital, informal investors (business angels), bank and debt finance, stock markets; - The European Venture Capital Association (EVCA) and the European Association of Securities Dealers (EASD) have both been strongly supported by DG XIII/D of the European Commission, since their establishment in 1984 and 1994 respectively. Initiatives such as these have led to the creation of new markets, such as EASDAQ, where innovative companies can raise money more easily than on the established stock markets; - Dissemination of best practice: the INNOVATION programme has funded studies, workshops and pilot projects to look at all aspects of developing innovation finance. Many such studies or reports can be found on the Financing Innovation homepage, for example looking at business angels schemes (informal investment networks), and at the development of a business plan; - Seminars to raise awareness of the financing possibilities for high-tech companies, addressed specifically at participants in the EU's own research and development programmes, are organized by the INNOVATION programme. Details of the results of these and forthcoming events will be made available through the site; - Development of innovation policy at EU level, and in particular how this relates to innovation finance. Going back to the Action Plan and the Green Paper consultations which led up to its adoption, the Financing Innovation homepage provides links to the key documents in EU innovation policy, showing also how these have been followed up by concrete actions. Among the latest policy initiatives is the Commission's plan to develop a "risk capital action plan" for Europe, which aims to bring down barriers, encouraging investors to treat the EU as one single investment market.