Skip to main content

This 3 day conference will be focused to the financial instruments, facilities and measures launched under Horizon 2020 to enhance access to finance for research, innovation and SMEs.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - First InnovativeWeek (This 3 day conference will be focused to the financial instruments, facilities and measures launched under Horizon 2020 to enhance access to finance for research, innovation and SMEs.)

Reporting period: 2015-02-02 to 2015-12-01


Conference “First Innovative Enterprise Week - Access to Finance for Research, Innovation and SMEs 2015” (First Innovative Week), the second of annually held by RTD conferences, was held in Riga, Latvia this year. The very successful growth of this major conference was sustained. Approximately 450 delegates from 29 countries ensured that First Innovative Week was the biggest, best-organised and best-supported such conference to date.

Sessions, workshops, meetings, presentations and official receptions over three days demonstrated convincingly the importance of access to finance topics in ensuring that Europe retains a foothold at the very forefront of global research and innovation. Indeed, the importance of access to finance for research and innovation as a key enabling technology, was fundamental topic which repeatedly emerged during the course of the three days. The importance of international cooperation, including extending the boundaries of such cooperation well beyond the EU borders, was repeatedly emphasised and highlighted by all key players and was reflected in the committed participation of so many delegates from beyond those borders. The enthusiastic participation of so many delegates in the sessions demonstrated a very real willingness on the part of those delegates to establish new collaborations.

The event programme featured updates on the latest developments in R&I from many leading research centres and provided practical information on use of financial instruments for innovations from European innovation and research technology leaders. Inevitably, due to its timing at the end of the Latvian EU presidency, the relevance and importance of Horizon 2020 (Europe’s new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation) was repeatedly addressed. Hopes were expressed that the projected growth of Horizon 2020 and the strategic positioning of proposed SME Finance Initiative within Horizon 2020, would remain as a characteristic key element of Horizon 2020.

Throughout the conference, the need to focus on understanding how to gain access, via financial instruments, to loans, guarantees, counter-guarantees and hybrid, mezzanine and equity finance for companies and other types of organisation engaged in research and innovation (R&I) has been emphasised. Another important priority for conference was to build activities that supporting R&I in upcoming years: the Risk-Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF) and the Risk-Sharing Instrument for SMEs (RSI) in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), together with GIF-1, the early-stage part of the High-Growth & Innovative SMEs Facility in the Competitiveness & Innovation Framework Programme (CIP)2. Horizon 2020's financial instrument facilities will operate in conjunction with those of COSME3, the successor to CIP.
No doubt, First Innovative Week conference has catalysed participation by Horizon 2020 in the proposed SME Finance Initiative, also the launch of a pilot facility supporting the technology transfer process and a new focus on improving access to risk finance by larger midcap firms was sustained. The speakers at the conference provided their view into how best to encourage more business angel, crowd-funding and philanthropic investments in R&I; the potential for pan-European venture capital (VC) funds-of-funds; and at the possibilities for an EU prizes scheme.

In addition, conference encouraged companies and research institutions of all sizes, together with other types of organisation, to get advice on how to make themselves more attractive to banks and potential investors.

During the First Innovative Enterprise Week in Riga, the European Commission (EC) and the EIB Group have launched three new financial products to boost the competitiveness of innovative companies in Europe under the ""InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators"" programme. The EC and the EIB have also expanded the “InnovFin Advisory” mandate, which will allow innovative projects and companies to benefit from the EIB’s financial and technical expertise in more sectors than before.

With two of the new products under the InnovFin brand, the European Commission and the EIB aim to help projects in cutting-edge sectors that might otherwise not be considered bankable during their pre-commercial stage. InnovFin Energy Demo Projects will support first-of-a-kind industrial demonstration projects in the fields of renewable energy and hydrogen and fuel cells, whereas InnovFin Infectious Diseases will ensure that new drugs, vaccines and medical and diagnostic devices are made available faster to people who need them. These financial products allow projects with a higher risk factor to receive loans. EUR 100m has been allocated initially to each product to kick-start the initiatives.

The third innovative financial product, launched by the European Investment Fund (EIF) as part of the EIB Group, is the InnovFin SME Venture Capital Facility. It focuses on Venture Capital funds that target start-ups, which often find it particularly challenging to obtain financing. The EUR 430m allocation to early-stage funding will target enterprises located in EU Member States and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries. The EIF expects to invest in around 30 funds, helping to generate total investment in start-ups of up to EUR 1.6bn.

By signing the amendments, both parties have also expanded the reach of the InnovFin Advisory mandate. This will allow a number of key sectors for innovation, such as Bio-Economy, Circular Economy and Key Enabling Technologies, to benefit from the EIB's advisory expertise and contribute to more innovation financing in coming years.
Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation pointed out: “This event comes at a time when the EU is still challenged by the consequences of the economic crisis. Now is the moment for Europe to act, show boldness and creativity to inspire hope in the hearts and minds of Europe’s innovators, who are the catalysers that create new jobs, growth and increased competitiveness. The Innovative Enterprise Week offers new perspectives to entrepreneurs with excellent ideas and sees their access to financing possibilities enlarged. The two new InnovFin facilities to be presented by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) respond to important issues for our citizens concerning healthcare and the supply of sustainable energy. In addition, together with the European Investment Fund (EIF), the European Commission is also launching InnovFin SME Venture Capital, an equity facility through which over EUR 400 million will be invested in hundreds of innovative European SMEs. These new facilities are complemented by an expansion of the ElB’s InnovFin Advisory service, which will help many more of Europe’s industrial innovation projects realise their potential and generate returns for our society and economy. Together, we can reverse credit shortages and excessive investment risks using the EU’s integrated financial support tools - involving Horizon 2020’s InnovFin, COSME for growth-oriented enterprises, and European Structural and Investment funds. The new Investment Plan for Europe and its European Fund for Strategic Investments will further support research and innovation by leveraging even more public and private sector financing for high-risk, high-reward projects. Investment in innovation is the key to a better future, with well-being and prosperity for all. Your presence here today is a testimony to your commitment to this ideal.”
EIB Vice-President Fayolle commented on the signing by saying: “It’s a great pleasure to sign the Amendments to the Delegation and Advisory Agreements of Horizon 2020 on the occasion of the First Innovative Enterprise Week. With this, we are presenting three new InnovFin products for research, innovation and SMEs as well as expanding the scope of the advisory work programme. Giving these very important sectors easier access to finance and advisory services, especially with higher-risk projects, is crucial to bridge the investment gap in Europe and stay at the forefront of global competitiveness.”

To summarize, First Innovative Week was event which fully raised awareness of the potential for the financial instruments, facilities and accompanying measures launched under Horizon 2020 to enhance access to finance for research, innovation and SMEs. A particular focus on the interactions possible between these instruments, COSME's, and European Structural & Investment Funds (ESIF), as well as with instruments at national and local level, was emphasized. The event brought together policy-makers, financial intermediaries and representatives of the research, innovation and business communities.
1. Work with lecturers and guests of honour of the conference

Within the conference Innoweek 2015, the organisers provided for comprehensive and reliable communication with the lecturers prior to the conference, during, as well as afterwards. Initially, the lecturers were sent electronic and printed invitations to participate. Upon receipt of a positive reply, a list of lecturers was developed and it was continuously updated and supplemented based on the current situation.

The organiser – “Financial Development Institution Altum” (ALTUM previous AFI) provided for the lecturers’ coordinator who provided assistance in all issues and replies to all questions required for the lecturer. The lecturers’ coordinator ensured successful coordination between the lecturer and the travel agency to purchase the most suitable flight tickets to allow the lecturer to arrive to the conference without any complications, booked the hotels, provided for transportation and security.

ALTUM also provided for the welcome stand in the airport that was created in compliance with the developed First Innovation Week design. The welcome stand operated for 3 days by adhering to the arrival times of the lecturers. In the stand, each lecturer could receive the information about the conference, its location and possible means of transport. The staff working in the stand assisted the lecturers with taxi reservations and how to get to them. Prior to the conference, the lecturers’ coordinator also coordinated and summarised the subjects presented by the lecturers at the conference, their names, presentation files, prepared the materials for processing, translated those and published then on the conference publicity channels: website, Facebook page, Twitter page, as well as printed materials.

2. Work with the EU commissioners and government officials

ALTUM, in cooperation with the Ministry of Economics of the Republic of Latvia and the European Commission representative office, provided for the VIP delegation organisation services.

A VIP list was developed, monitored, and updated. The following services were provided for and organised: VIP protocol, transport, escorting, and security services.

The following work tasks were implemented: particularising, processing of VIP subjects and presentations, their preparation for placement in the media. ALTUM also provided for processing and translation of VIP speeches, subjects, subject names, presentations and other prepared materials and their publication on the conference publicity channels: website, Facebook page, Twitter page, as well as printed materials.

In addition, the VIP guest transportation to/from the locations of dinners and other informal events, as well as meeting and seeing-off the VIP guests in Riga Airport and using services of the Airport VIP Service Centre, were organised.

3. Work with the conference participants

ALTUM, in cooperation with the responsible European Commission staff, developed the database of participants by partially using the details provided by the organiser, invited the participants, provided for the sales activities and publicity, as well as organised and provided for the meeting and registration of participants at the conference site.

Inviting the participants was provided for by using specially developed software that allowed for inviting several thousand participants and sending e-mails to them containing information about the conference.
ALTUM also developed, processed, and coordinated the participant database (in MS Excel format) containing at least 1,500 contacts. Detailed information was provided about each participant in the database: company name, address, e-mail address, contact person and title.
The list of invited conference participants was prepared accordingly.

Over the course of three days, the conference was attended by 473 participants, including participants from the Baltic States and participants from foreign target markets (Belgium, Norway, Poland, Italy, Croatia, Austria, Great Britain, France, Greece, Spain, Czech Republic, Sweden, etc.), if totalling all the days of the conference together.

ALTUM developed and sent digital and paper format invitations to the potential participants, sent the invitations together with the information about the event and the agenda to the contacts in the database, sent reminders, solutions and topicalities about the conference.

Registration of participants was organised and coordinated; within it, information was provided to the participants, written communication with them was performed, answers to all questions were provided, system of registration was maintained, invitations and reminders, automatic notifications about the registration status or the required information about the course of the conference were sent, the list of participants was developed, servicing of and contacting the participants in the event of uncertainty was provided for, reminders related to the conference were sent.

4. Electronic registration of participants

ALTUM, in cooperation with the involved subcontractors, provided for development of the personalised registration system. It included various possibilities to modernise and make the accounting of participants, communication, circulation of news and required information easier. The opportunity to register for the participation in the conference, for each day individually or all days together, was provided.

It was possible to register in different hotels in Riga with a special discount, including in the event venue in the Radisson BLU Daugava hotel. To provide for such a possibility, communication with relevant hotels of Riga located close to the venue and providing representative and a pleasant impression of Riga, was performed earlier.

In addition, the personalised system developed by the organisers provided the opportunity to research the social activity module of the event First Innovation Week, as well as to register for any or all social activities. Such were held during all days of the event.

Registration for social activities provided the organisers of the event with the opportunity to obtain information about the number of eventual participants, which helps in planning the activities, menu and transport.

Next, the personalised system developed for the First Innovation Week conference provided for importing the list of participants in different formats, including xls and csv formats. It provided the opportunity to generate automatic news/responses and send such to the participants. At the same time, the system also provided automatic notifications to the organisers about the course of registration. The registration system ensured editing of summarised data and their summarisation online; it was possible to sort the date according to several criteria, to export such by category (in xls and csv formats). Based on the details from the registration system, the organisers developed and produced personalised name badges for the participants.

At the end of the conference, survey/evaluation questionnaires were sent to all conference participants by means of the personalised system to obtain objective information about the assessment of the conference.
Finally, ALTUM provided for technical maintenance, updating, design and information content of the registration system, as well as processed the requests of participants in the registration system and provided quality information support.

5. Development and production of hand-out materials

ALTUM, in cooperation with the involved subcontractors, provided for the development and production of invitations to the conference, its programmes, posters, and other visual materials. The text of conference hand-out materials was created, a unique design was developed and layout design and editing of materials were provided for.
Main outcomes was:
1) The A4-format hard cover folder of the conference was developed with print, a unique design, place for a pen and notepaper. 450 conference folders were produced.
2) The development of design and production of the conference brochure & programme in 500 copies in paper format was provided for.
3) The design and special print/engraving was developed for 400 “Parker” pens.
4) ALTUM, in cooperation with the involved subcontractors, provided for personalised name badges for all participants by distinguishing lecturers, visitors, organisers and media representatives by means of individual colours. The badges were of high quality, with universal fastening and specially developed design of conference symbols. There were 500 name badges produced.
Prior to production of hand-out materials, their design was agreed with the responsible staff of the European Commission. The symbols of the event (conference) prepared earlier were used in the development of design (See the Conference Brand Book).

6. Provision for information during the conference

During the event from 15 to 17 June 2015, from 08:00 to 22:00, ALTUM, in cooperation with the involved subcontractors, provided for the information support: a telephone number to call in the event of uncertainty.

Quality information was provided about the issues related to the event programme, timing, tours and their programmes, event venues, arrival and departure times, transfer schedules, etc. The information telephone number was provided in all information materials. Information was provided in Latvian, Russian, and English.

From 15 to 17 June 2015, from 08:00 to 19:00, at the conference venue in the Radisson BLU Daugava hotel, the information stand was in operation featuring qualified, knowledgeable and kind staff that assisted in different issues related to the conference.

Direction signs containing the required information about the conference were produced and placed both inside and outside the conference venue.

7. Technical support of the conference

Both conference halls, as well as auxiliary rooms, were arranged and equipped with a stage, platforms, podiums, chairs, tables standing tables, etc.
ALTUM, in cooperation with the involved subcontractors, provided for catering during the conference: coffee breaks, buffets, lecturers’ banquets. Two coffee breaks and lunch were served every day during the conference. Coffee breaks and lunch took place in two locations: a tent outside was available to the participants, while a hotel restaurant room was available to the lecturers.

Technical equipment and arrangement organisation of the conference was provided for. Additional screens and monitors were installed, sound system, interpreting, interpreters, sounding, video, live internet broadcast, IT equipment, etc. were provided for.
On the conference website, it was possible to watch a live internet broadcast and the recordings of the conference.

8. Provision for the conference publicity

ALTUM, in cooperation with the involved subcontractors, developed the conference website and is planning to continue for one year from a start in February 2015. The conference website was supplemented with the particular and topical information prior to, as well as during, the conference. After the conference, all lecturers’ presentations, video materials, photos and final reports were published on the conference website. The website content was developed, supplemented, translated and edited.

The website in English provided the description about the conference, videos, pictures, presentations and other visual materials, organiser contact details, the conference programme, organisers’ logotypes and links to portals specified by them, contact details, information telephone number, etc.

ALTUM, in cooperation with the involved subcontractors, provided for creating the Twitter account, its development and integration with the website.

The design of banners published on the conference website was developed. The stage was designed and banners were placed in the rooms and near the event locations outside. Signboards and internal and external direction signs in the event venues were provided for as well.

ALTUM, in cooperation with the involved subcontractors, provided for two photographers during the conference and the ceremonial evening events, including selection and development of photographs. Video interviews and video invitations were developed prior to the conference. A conference moderator was provided for throughout all three days of the conference.

Video reviews about the conference were filmed, edited, and prepared during the conference. Presents of gratitude were provided to the conference participants, lecturers and VIP guests. A survey was prepared and agreed with the organisers. ALTUM, in cooperation with the involved subcontractors, summarised and reflected the obtained results of surveys.

9. Coordination of ceremonial events of the conference

ALTUM, in cooperation with the involved subcontractors, organised the ceremonial events of the conference. A ceremonial dinner in the restaurant KOYA was organised on 14 June 2015, which was attended by the conference lecturers as well as representatives from Latvia.

On 15 June 2015, a ceremonial event was organised in the restaurant Bibliotēka No. 1, upon organising which, ALTUM, in cooperation with the involved subcontractors, provided information about the event, smooth and coordinated guest transportation to the event venue, successful flow of guests in the premises of the event, as well as other organisational work required in the course of the evening.

On 16 June 2015, the event in Riga Art Space was organised, including provision of information about the course of the event, smooth and coordinated transportation of guests to the event venue, successful flow of guests in the premises of the event, as well as other organisational work required in the course of the evening.

An excursion on the Daugava on the ship Vecrīga was organised on 17 June 2015. Prior to the excursion, ALTUM, in cooperation with the involved subcontractors, provided for guest transportation to the vessel as well as their transportation to the hotel after the excursion.
"The First Innovative Enterprise week “Access to Finance for Research, Innovation and SMEs 2015” conference was held on 15-17 June in Riga as part of the First Innovative Enterprise Week initiated by the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The conference was organised by the Latvian Ministry of Economics in collaboration with the Altum development finance institution, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, the European Investment Fund and the Secretariat of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

The First Innovative Enterprise week conference “Access to Finance for Research, Innovation and SMEs 2015” which was held in Riga, brought together more than 450 financial policy-makers, financial intermediaries, innovation experts and entrepreneurs, who over three days of the conference discussed access to finance for research and innovative businesses. The European Investment Bank (EIB) Group and the European Commission (EC) announced at the conference three new support instruments under the ""InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators"" support programme that are worth a total of more than 600 million euros, also confirming further development of increasingly more effective ways to attract investment in the European economy and stimulate small and medium-sized enterprises.

Two new InnovFin financial instruments for support of the health and energy sectors, which have a growing role in the economy, were launched during the conference. Also, a venture capital instrument for small and medium-sized enterprises will be launched, opening up new financing opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises. The range of consulting services was also expanded to help innovative entrepreneurs become more attractive in the eyes of private investors, improving development opportunities for new enterprises across Europe and thereby facilitating economic growth in Europe.

This was the first European conference on innovative business and another is planned to take place under the Netherlands’ Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2016. Delegates acknowledged that the initiative of the Latvian Presidency and the European Commission to bring together high-level policy-makers, representatives of scientific institutions, entrepreneurs and private investors was a successful start of the further work on securing economic growth in Europe.

At the opening the conference, the Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma stressed that “Europe’s success in the economic field is largely dependent on whether small and medium-sized enterprises are able to utilise their potential for growth. The development of these enterprises is affected by their access to financial resources, which has been significantly hampered by the cautious lending policy of banks, and, to improve the situation several important initiatives have been launched at EU level that will improve the investment environment and improve small and medium enterprises’ access to financial resources”.

The First Innovative Week devoted much attention to the Investment Plan for Europe, the implementation of which will begin already in the coming months. The plan will stimulate investment in growth and jobs, diversify available resources of financing and facilitate cross-border capital flows.

The conference was attended by the European Commission’s Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Mr Carlos Moedas who introduced the EU financial instruments in support of innovation. Mr Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, gave an insight into the current situation in the Eurozone, while work on the Investment Plan for Europe was explained by Vice-President of EIB Mr Pim van Ballekom. Vice-President of EIB Mr Ambroise Fayolle and CEO of the European Investment Fund (EIF) Pier Luigi Gilibert were also among the participants of the conference.

A total of 16 plenary and 7 parallel conference sessions on 3 days were followed by rich cultural and networking events. A number of further pre-arranged closed workshop sessions were also organised to cover related matters. Throughout the three days, First Innovative Week ensured direct broadcast and translation of sessions in conference website. The dinner hall with over than 400 places were built for conference and served as the principle networking and refreshment forum for all delegates on each of the days.

Finally 98 speakers, 471 delegates and 29 organisers were registered for First Innovative Week 2015 with visitors travelling from 30 countries in addition to many delegates from Latvia.