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€700 million raised to support artificial intelligence and blockchain technology

The European Investment Fund (EIF) has signed the first six equity agreements with venture capital funds to support businesses under the EU's InnovFin Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain initiative.

New agreements with tech equity funds in Austria, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands are expected to raise €700 million to support tech companies across Europe.

Digital start-ups and SMEs in the early stages of development can now apply for financing from the six funds: 

The funding totalling €700 million will support investments in the tech sector, including scalable artificial intelligence/blockchain technology (AI/BT) activities. The funds will target companies and sectors that are growing, including B2B software, data/analytics, the Internet of things, smart cities, automation, language and machine learning, software as a service, fintech, cybersecurity and the future of work.

There has already been strong demand for support from the market and more than 60% of the €100 million risk-sharing allocation set out in the InnovFin AI/BT initiative has already been committed. A promising additional pipeline is expected to materialise by the end of the year/early 2021.

The InnovFin AI/BT initiative invests in venture capital funds targeting AI/BT activities and co-invests in companies operating in these sectors. New funds backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) were announced following the launch of the European Commission's digital finance package, allowing the EIF and the EC to continue to scale-up strategic cooperation in the next Multiannual Financial Framework under InvestEU.

Thierry Breton, Commissioner of the Internal Market, said: “Europe needs more investments in highly innovative digital companies. I welcome the collaboration with the EIF which resulted in the first EU-wide investment fund to support the incubation and scale-up of highly innovative AI and blockchain technologies.”

EIF Chief Executive, Alain Godard said: “It is a priority for Europe to be at the forefront of the development of artificial intelligence/blockchain technology, in order to remain competitive and improve people's lives, bringing major benefits to our society and economy. Europe is home to a world-leading AI and blockchain research community with vibrant start-ups and a wide range of traditional industries. I am delighted that we can partner with the EC to invest in these six funds which target companies looking to adopt innovative processes and business models.”

The allocation of the potential funds will be considered on a first-come-first-assessed basis. More information on the AI/BT initiative can be found here

Background information

The European Investment Fund is part of the European Investment Bank (EIB) group. Its central mission is to provide access to financial support to Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses. The EIF designs and develops both venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. It fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth and employment.

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (ESFI) is the main pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. It provides first-loss guarantees, enabling the EIB to invest in more and often riskier projects. The projects and agreements approved for financing under the EFSI are expected to mobilise €535.4 billion in investment, supporting over 1.4 million start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises across the European Union.

InnovFin Equity is part of InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators, a generation of EU financial instruments and advisory services developed under Horizon 2020 to help innovative firms access finance more easily. InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators will help to inject around €50 billion in investments in research and innovation across Europe.

InnovFin Equity provides equity investments and co-investments focusing on the early stage financing of enterprises operating in innovative sectors covered by Horizon 2020, enterprises located or active in the EU or Horizon 2020 associated countries.

You can access InnovFin and other brands of EU finance here

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