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Abstract

The fi-compass event 'ESIF financial instruments in the 2014-2020 programming period – Opportunities for Finnish regions', was held on 12-13 September in Kuopio, Finland.

The objective of this event was to raise awareness among potentially interested stakeholders in Finland on how financial instruments co-funded with European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) can help achieve objectives set out in the ESIF Operational Programmes (OP).

Deploying ESIF financial instruments can be very attractive for regions to increase the impact of their ESIF interventions by mobilising other public and private resources and reusing resources paid back

The focus of the event was on financial instruments under the ESI Funds supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in particular guarantees and equity.

The final agenda is available for download.

Photo library

ESIF financial instruments in the 2014-2020 programming period – Opportunities for Finnish regions, Kuopio, 12-13 September 2017

Picture: Marko Korhonen, Regional Council of Pohjois-Savo

Financial instruments delivering ESI Funds in the 2014-2020 programming period were discussed in an event organised by fi-compass on 12 September 2017 (afternoon) and 13 September 2017 (morning) in Kuopio, Pohjois-Savo Region, Finland. The event focused on the opportunities for Finnish regions provided by the use of financial instruments under ESIF in the 2014-2020 programming period and brought together representatives of many Finnish regions, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, banking sector representatives and other relevant stakeholders on national and regional level.

Marko Korhonen, Mayor of Pohjois-Savo Region, welcomed participants and introduced the key characteristics of the Pohjois-Savo Region and its smart specialisation strategy. The moderator of the event, Bruno Robino, head of fi-compass at the European Investment Bank (EIB), welcomed participants on behalf of fi-compass and introduced the key topics and structure of the event.

Key features offered by the 2014-2020 policy framework for financial instruments under ESIF were presented next by Jörg Lackenbauer, European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO). The presentation gave an overview of the differences with the previous framework, the logic of ex-ante assessments. Furthermore, it explained the phased payments process and the possibility of combining support, e.g. with grants. Following this, the implementation of the SME Initiative in Finland, which was launched in September 2016, was presented as another option to support SMEs by Pekka Jounila, DG REGIO.

Picture: Jörg Lackenbauer, DG REGIO, European Commission

The key characteristics and advantages of ESIF financial instruments, the possible implementation options and the different types of financial products, as well as how guarantee schemes work, were explained to participants by Bruno Robino.

To complement the theoretical presentation, a case study of a First Loss Portfolio Guarantee, a financial instrument successfully launched in Malta in 2011 to support local SMEs, was presented by Daniela Grech from the Maltese Ministry for European Affairs and Equality (managing authority). Her presentation included a comprehensive description of the design, set-up and implementation of this financial instrument. Questions from participants focused on the practical aspects of the process of selection of the most suitable intermediary and how to use the funds to equally cover the needs of all regions of the country.

On the second day, Miglena Dobreva, European Investment Bank, illustrated how equity schemes work and focused on the advantages of using different type of equity products co-financed with ESIF aimed to address the financing needs of SMEs. The presentation included also an overview of the main features of the co-investment facility as one of the ’off-the-shelf’ instruments for SMEs adopted by the European Commission in 2016.

Picture: Participant asking questions

A practical example of the use of equity to support SMEs was given by Charles Hamilton from Invest Northern Ireland (intermediate body). The ‘Access to Finance Solutions for SMEs’ include equity financial instruments which were set up very early in the 2014-2020 programming period, based on the findings from the ex-ante assessment of regional SME needs for access to finance in the different stages of their business development.

The justification for the use of financial instruments as well as the characteristics and suitability of different financial products were the main topics of an interactive workshop. Participants could learn through group work exercises and discussions and direct interaction with fi-compass experts.

Questions and statements from participants covered a wide range of issues concerning the set-up and implementation of financial instruments, especially relating to the Finnish regions which are looking into new ways to support their SMEs and to increase their competitiveness.

Bruno Robino summarised in the remarks closing the event the advantages of using ESIF financial instruments in the 2014-2020 programming period and encouraged participants to consider financial instruments under ESIF as an effective policy tool to enhance the support to SMEs in Finnish regions.

ESIF financial instruments in the 2014-2020 programming period – Opportunities for Finnish regions, Kuopio, 12-13 September 2017

Title Speakers
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Welcome and opening remarks

Marko Korhonen, Region Mayor of Pohjois-Savo

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Opportunities offered by the 2014-20 legal and policy framework

Jörg Lackenbauer, DG REGIO, European Commission

Pekka Jounila, DG REGIO, European Commission

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Introduction to financial instruments: Key features and advantages, different financial instruments products, implementation options

Bruno Robino, European Investment Bank

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How does a guarantee scheme work?

Bruno Robino, European Investment Bank

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Financial instruments for SME support in practice – Case study demonstrating the delivery cycle and results of a First Loss Portfolio Guarantee

Daniela Grech, Ministry for European Affairs and Equality, Malta

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How does an equity scheme work?

Miglena Dobreva, European Investment Bank

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Financial instruments for SME support in practice – Case study demonstrating the use of equity instruments

Charles Hamilton, Invest Northern Ireland

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Closing remarks

Bruno Robino, European Investment Bank