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€20 million in EU grants to support innovative businesses in Bulgaria, Latvia and Romania

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union (EU) are stepping up their support with a new €20 million pilot programme helping innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-cap companies in Bulgaria,Latvia and Romania.

The EBRD and the European Commission signed two agreements in Brussels today providing a comprehensive package of finance, advisory support and measures to promote green technologies.

Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation said: "This exciting new partnership with the EBRD allows us to boost finance for innovation in SMEs in countries where there are investment gaps in the field of innovation. Our joint efforts will give a boost to the economies of Latvia, Romania and Bulgaria, and to their competitiveness and growth."

“This important cooperation with DG Research, Science and Innovation under Horizon 2020 will help us to further step up our efforts to build innovative and green economies,” said Pierre Heilbronn, EBRD Vice President, Policy and Partnerships. “It will make full use of the EBRD’s expertise in financing business growth and help the private sector to innovate to meet future challenges. Going forward, we have the ambition to further build on this important partnership.”

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Under the first agreement, the EU will extend €12.5 million in grants to Romania provided for under the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020, in a drive to help innovative SMEs and midcaps become more competitive. While the EBRD's credit lines will help local banks to lend to eligible businesses, the EU grants will finance the training of local lending finance providers to support new financial products. In addition, proven successful projects can receive bonus financing.

Under the second agreement, another €7.5 million in Horizon 2020 grants will serve to support small businesses with advisory services to boost innovation as well as to prepare them for direct finance provided by the EBRD. The same funds will also help companies in both countries and Latvia to make use of innovative technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become more resilient to the effects of climate change.

The EBRD is working with its partners to build competitive, resilient and green economies in the countries where it operates. To date, the Bank has invested around €3.7 billion in Bulgaria, €640 million in Latvia and more than €7.8 billion in Romania.

Under Horizon 2020 alone, the EU had invested close to €65 million in Bulgaria, around €50 million in Latvia and €119.8 million in Romania in grants by the end of September 2018.

The EBRD is a multilateral bank that promotes the development of the private sector and entrepreneurial initiative in 38 economies across three continents. It is owned by 67 countries, the EU and the EIB. The Bank is the largest institutional investor in Moldova and to date has invested more than €1.2 billion in over 120 projects in the country.

Vilnius-based Invalda INVL is one of the leading asset management groups in the Baltic states. The group’s companies have more than €650 million of assets under management, entrusted to them by more than 190,000 clients in Lithuania and Latvia as well as international investors.

Horizon Capital is the leading private equity firm investing in Ukraine and Moldova through funds with a tenure of 25 years in the region. Backed by over 40 institutional investors from US and Europe, the firm has over $800 million under management. Horizon Capital is an active value-added investor, backing visionary entrepreneurs transforming the business landscape in the region.

SUBMITTED BY By Volker Ahlemeyer