EU makes move into venture capitalismReading Time: < 1 minute
In an unprecedented development, the EU will make significant investments in new small and medium-sized enterprises as part of the “Accelerator” programme launched by the European Innovation Council (EIC).
Previously the EU has previously only issued grants or backed private investors, without taking ownership stakes. EIC director Jean-David Malo told Politico that revenues raised from any subsequent floating or sale of a startup will be channelled back into the EUR 10.1 billion innovation budget.
At present only 3 of the EU-backed “centaur” companies (i.e. valued at over €100 million), are based in Eastern Europe – namely Croatia, Estonia and Hungary, Politico notes. Of this east-west investment disparity, Malo said “for the EIC, we’re here at year one.”
The EIC Accelerator aims to support the emergence of not just centaurs, but also “unicorn” tech (i.e. worth at least USD 1 billion) companies. With 268 unicorns – including 71 in the UK – Europe has lagged well behind the US, which has around three times as many such companies, according to data from July.
EU Innovation Commissioner Mariya Gabriel and digital czar Margrethe Vestager made the announcement at the EIC summit last week. A pilot programme that has invested EUR 600 million in 137 companies has been running for the last two years.
“Our main objective (is) to accompany these companies until the moment the technology is more mature and the private investors are ready to totally take charge”, Malo said.