Equifund, a financing tool to support investment funds, will start its activity in the coming weeks and is projected to boost the economy by more that 400 million euros.
The fund will make its debut in Athens on April 16, when the European Investment Fund (EIF) formally presents the nine investment funds created and selected in recent months in order to invest hundreds of millions of euros in innovative ideas, startups and small and medium-sized enterprises.
The creation of Equifund is the most important effort ever to support innovation and new entrepreneurship in Greece. It follows JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises), through which 120 million euros has been invested with 50 percent private participation.
Compared to JEREMIE, Equifund will be three times as big. The state’s participation alone will amount to 260 million euros, while at least 140 million euros will come from private investors, such as investment banks, investment funds as well as wealthy individuals (shipowners, industrialists etc).
The state’s contribution mostly derives from the European Union-subsidized Partnership Agreement for the Development Framework (200 million euros), while the EIF brings in another 60 million. For the private sector the aim is to contribute some 140 million, but only just over 100 million euros had been secured up until January.
The private funds should have been in place by end-2017, but the weak Greek economy led to skepticism among interested investors. For example, only four out of the nine funds had offered firm commitments regarding their contributions by January. The other five only offered softer commitments.
Still, the necessary resources will be gradually secured, if with some fine-tuning: For instance the Metavallon VC investment fund, which had secured private resources ahead of the deadline, is raising its fund level from 30 to 32 million euros. In contrast, other funds that may be unable to secure private participation will reduce their size; the situation will remain dynamic for the entire five-year period to come.
If there is an excess in business ideas, the budget of Equifund may be expanded. Sources say, if required, both the Greek and European authorities will increase the public funding so as to satisfy future entrepreneurs.