Access to finance is essential for the start up and growth of businesses in general and particularly so for the development and successful exploitation of eco-innovation in Europe. The objectives of the ninth ETAP forum are to examine the current trends , identify and discuss the challenges faced by financial actors and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in this domain, share good practices and provide recommendations to feed into the design of financial support programmes in the post-2013 financial perspective at EU level. These will also benefit the design of similar programmes at national and regional levels.
Financing is recognised as essential for the realisation and mainstreaming of eco-innovation, particularly in the early stage of business development. The first ETAP forum in 2006 already explored the range of financing opportunities available for eco-innovation, with an emphasis on approaches that harness public/private interactions for financing various stages of the innovation process. This ninth forum will focus on how to improve access to finance, particularly in the early stages.
The event will bring together: the financial actors that provide funds – such as banks, investment funds and agencies running financial programmes; eco-innovators – principally SMEs and other entities looking for funding to grow in their markets; policy makers; potential customers; and business intermediaries such as consultants and facilitators that are key to match demand and supply of available funds. Interest is also expected from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and business associations.
The programme will cover:
Access to finance and eco-innovation from the eco-innovator and the fund provider point of view;
Case studies and practical experiences of private enterprises and financial institutions that will highlight the challenges and solutions of access to finance related to eco-innovators. The aim is to identify areas where public support may be needed;
An overview of EU actions supporting eco-innovation – such as Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) Financial instruments, CIP eco-innovation Pilot projects, Life Environment and Risk Sharing Finance – targeting different stages in the innovation cycle; and
The additional efforts needed in terms of public support and public-private partnerships to facilitate access to finance for early stage eco-innovators, as well as those necessary to get national/regional financial actors more involved in financing eco-innovation.