Finland was the location of the fi-compass event ‘ESIF financial instruments in the 2014-2020 programming period – Opportunities for Finnish regions’ organised during September in the city of Kuopio. The event was designed to raise awareness about how financial instruments co-financed by the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) can support Finnish regions and especially their small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Among the participants were representatives from across Finnish regions, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, commercial banks, and other Finnish stakeholders on national and regional levels. Marko Korhonen, Mayor of Pohjois-Savo Region, welcomed the participants and presented an overview of the Innovation Priorities and Development Objectives of the smart specialisation strategy of the Region. Subsequently, participants learned from the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) about the policy framework for financial instruments under ESIF. This included highlighting the expansion of the scope of financial instruments to all thematic objectives and the availability of ‘off-the-shelf’ models for financial instruments.
From the European Investment Bank (EIB), participants received a practical overview of how and why to use ESIF financial instruments. This involved discussion of four key advantages of ESIF financial instruments, namely:
- Improving access to private sector resources and expertise;
- Providing better quality projects since the investment must be repaid;
- Moving away from the 'grant dependency' culture;
- Improving efficiency due to their revolving nature.
Financial instruments in action
A general overview of how guarantee schemes work was provided by the EIB, followed by a presentation of a representative from the Maltese Ministry for European Affairs and Equality about the way they had used the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to implement a 'First loss portfolio guarantee' in the 2007-2013 programming period. Among other useful advice and feedback, the Maltese presentation noted the importance of good quality publicity to generate awareness among SMEs for such financial instruments. Malta generated significant interest within its business community using media coverage and billboard posters, as well as information sessions.
After a presentation about how equity schemes work in general, a representative of Invest Northern Ireland shared with the participants their specific experiences on implementing equity financial instruments in the current programming period. These had so far resulted in support for over 400 businesses with a total investment of approximately EUR 113 million.
The two-day event concluded with a workshop, where participants were given the opportunity to discuss in groups suitability of the different types of financial instruments and share their own practical experiences related to the implementation of financial instruments.
Discussions were an important part of the event and focused on financial instruments products available, as well as the possible implementation options that could be used.
Visit the event page to access and share presentations and other resources from this fi-compass event.