EU to introduce new supports for SMEs under Horizon 2020

5 Oct 2012

EU Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn at a venture capital congress in Dublin

European Commissioner for Research and Innovation Máire Geoghegan-Quinn has announced new measures to support SMEs in developing high-potential innovations and bring them closer to market under the EU programme for research and innovation Horizon 2020.

Geoghegan-Quinn was speaking at the Dublin Business Innovation Centre yesterday when she announced the new supports.

“Horizon 2020, the new integrated programme for research and innovation, will help bring excellent science and research closer to the market. We are relying on you, business incubators and angels, innovative start-ups and leading new businesses, to make this happen,” she said.

Running from 2014 to 2020 with an €80bn budget, Horizon 2020 will be the EU’s new programme for research and innovation.

Geoghegan-Quinn said that support to venture capital and loans will be scaled up, working with the European Investment Bank. Under Horizon 2020, she said €3.5bn has been budgeted for financial instruments and measures for research and innovation.

“At least one-third of this amount will be dedicated to SMEs. A leverage of up to five times is envisaged, meaning that every euro provided through the financial instruments will generate up to €5 of additional finance,” explained Geoghegan-Quinn.

There will be two financing facilities. Firstly, a debt facility will provide loans, guarantees and other forms of debt finance to companies of all sizes, including research and innovation-driven SMEs. There will also be an equity facility targeted at providing finance for early and growth-stage investments, with a particular focus on early-stage SMEs that have the potential to be innovative and scale rapidly.

“Horizon 2020 will also target support to SMEs via a single, comprehensive instrument adapted to their needs.

“This is something really new, as is the idea that the instrument will cover the whole innovation cycle in three distinct, but seamlessly connected stages, including links to private finance,” said Geoghegan-Quinn.

She added that the SME instrument supports SMEs in developing high-potential innovations and bringing them closer to market.

“And it will provide incentives to leverage private co-investor or follow-up investments.”

Geoghegan-Quinn said this was just a “flavour” of the Horizon 2020 proposals to broaden and improve research and innovation supports for start-ups and SMEs at a European level.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic