In its assembly of March 2000, the European Council acknowledged the need for increasing the expenditure in innovation by implementing better policies and making better use of public funds. To achieve this, the EC has put great emphasis on increasing the use of financial instruments (FIs) as a delivery tool for the Cohesion Policy. Besides the obvious advantages of recycling funds over the long term, financial instruments help to mobilise additional public or private co-investments to address market failures. Moreover, FIs (Guarantees, Business Angels, Venture Capital, Crowdfunding, Crowdlending) have also proved to be a useful tool in helping innovative SMEs overcome the ‘valleys of death’ and reach a sustainable growth phase to become ‘stock exchange-listed’ companies.

Under Innova-FI, partners are seeking to improve the design and implementation of Financial Instruments as a delivery mode of Structural Funds, so that they best meet and serve the financing needs of innovative and RTDI-driven businesses in all the stages of their start-up and growth. Innova-FI partners will do this by learning about the innovation landscape, and how it is being publicly financed, in partner regions. The consortium will examine together identified challenges, such as: designing FIs that are well adapted to the different phases of the business; moving away from a grants culture, very much established in the RTDI and innovation field; achieving a better alignment of FIs with other support measures; or creating cross-border instruments.