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Policy Discussion in Preparation for the Launching of the Western Balkan Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility – WB EDIF

The Innovation Fund in cooperation with the European Integration Office hosted a round table dedicated to identification of priority policy reforms focused on improving the conditions for the development of innovative and high growth SMEs and stimulating the emergence of a venture capital markets. WB EDIF is a joint initiative, of the European Commission (EC), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Investment Fund (EIF), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Republic of Serbia on behalf of beneficiaries, set up through the Western Balkans Investment Framework and designed to improve access to finance for SMEs in the region. This Program is implemented with the financial support of the European Union.

“The objective of the roundtable is to identify and agree upon a set of priority reforms, which will accompany the implementation of WB EDIF, supported by its technical assistance component” stated the representatives of the OECD Investment Compact for Southeast Europe,” OECD is assisting the WB EDIF project partners in identifying these reforms prior to the project launch foreseen for December 2012”.

“The discussion raised important issues related to providing funding and high value added support to the innovation and research and development in companies, as well as creating supportive environment for investment in innovative companies and development of venture capital funds”, stated Ljiljana Kundakovic, Interim Managing Director of the Innovation Fund, and added “Comprehensive approach and commitment from all the stakeholders and improved access to finances are crucial for future development of innovation based economy and sustainable job creation.”

The Innovation Fund on behalf of the Republic of Serbia is coordinating in cooperation with the international partners preparation of the WB EDIF, which was adopted at the meeting of the Western Balkans Investment Framework Steering Committee, held in Luxembourg on December 7, 2011. The program consists of three financial components: Enterprise Innovation Fund (ENIF) – venture capital fund financing innovative SMEs in the start-up phase, Enterprise Expansion Fund (ENEF) – private equity fund focusing on established SMEs with high growth potential, Guarantee Facility (GF) – which will significantly improve opportunities for SMEs to access funds from banks, as well as potentially reducing the costs of borrowing. One component of the project is also Technical Assistance (TA Facility), which aims to improve the regulatory framework for supporting innovative SMEs with high growth potential, as well as to stimulate the venture capital market.

The representatives from the EC, World Bank, international financial institutions, Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, Ministry of Finance and Economy, research community and the private sector actively participated in the discussion at the roundtable.

Source: www.inovacionifond.rs