The workshop 'The role of financial instruments in the regional ecosystem and territorial cohesion' took place during the European Week of Regions and cities on Thursday, October 10, at Brussels Convention Centre. The session was organized as a joint effort of Startup Europe Regions Network (SERN) and ESPON.

Policy proposals for 2021-27 envisage a prominent role for Cohesion policy FIs and significant remodelling of EU level instruments. Drawing on the findings of a recent ESPON study on FI, this workshop explored how ESIF FIs can contribute to cohesion. The workshop presented results of the interregional project “Financial Instruments for Innovation (Innova-FI)” and two case studies as concrete examples. 

Moderator Lorenzo Palego (t33, IT) gave an introduction about tailoring FIs to regional requirements. The following experts then presented their views and findings: 

  • Alexandre Almeida (National Innovation Agency of Portugal, PT)
  • Inga Beiliuniene (Investment and Business Guarantees (LT)
  • Jonathan Denness (DG REGIO, BE)
  • Fiona Wishlade (University of Strathclyde, UK)


Study: Value of cohesion policies

Fiona Wishdale presented the results of a study that the University of Strathclyde undertook on behalf of ESPON to explore the added value of cohesion policies. The study used data from 2007-2013 and showed that in total, there were €15 billion invested in FIs across Europe. The objective was to better understand the distribution of money on a regional level. 

Quality of government in respective countries turned out to be a key driver in the choice of the financial product. The guarantees and equities were higher in those states and loans more widespread. Overall the study shows that enterprises account for 86% of all FI investments. 

The findings also revealed that there is no consistent territorial pattern with regard to the use of ESIF FIs as this depends on the domestic context of culture, experience and administrative capacity.


Innova-FI: Financial Instruments for Innovation

Alexandre Almeida gave an overview of activities and results achieved so far during the first year of Innova-FI project. FIs are important elements in the implementation of innovation policy. However as much as they are popular, different regions have different levels in implementation.

The goal of Innova-FI is to work together to better understand the landscape and establish borderless partnerships to create a harmonised environment for the FI system. For this, Innova-FI developed a mapping tool for regional identification and analysis. 

Almeida presented the case study of Portugal Ventures. The company aims to support a new breed of technology-based firms through pre-seed and seed investments. Their ultimate goals are to create four funds for the digital, engineering and manufacturing, life sciences and tourism sectors.

Invega: financially viable projects

Inga Beiliuniene presented insights into the Lithuanian market and the work of Invega, a fund of funds manages more than 30+ instruments and invested more than €700 million during its 18 years of existence.

Invega is focusing on the sectors of IoT, AI, SaaS, healthcare, photonics, robotics, energy efficiency and financial technology. Beiliuniene also mentioned the success of the Baltic Innovation Fund that registered 43% growth and mobilised €435 million.

The future of Financial Instruments

The last guest of the session, Jonathan Denness, spoke about the future of FIs. The Common Provisions Regulation proposal for 2021- 2027 introduces simplification measures to increase in the uptake of financial instruments. CPR also regulates the contribution arrangements to InvestEU programme.

Key Recommendations

According to the ESPON study except for Norway, systematic evidence on the impact of financial instruments is absent. In addition, no consistent territorial pattern of the use of ESIF financial instruments, thus it is hard to build a narrative, domestic context is a key to understand the uptake of FI. Problem regions could benefit from simplification in the use of financial instruments, however, they also need to be more risky in executing public policies. In conclusion, the panel of experts agreed that it is essential to:

  • Tailor financial products to the local context
  • Nurture trust and good working relations with financial intermediaries
  • Maintain flexibility to respond to changing conditions

We hope that you have made the most of the largest European event dedicated to regions and cities and their optimal development. 

Additional information

Portugal Ventures
Startup Europe Regions Network
INVEGA Lithuania
ESPON Financial Instruments and Territorial Cohesion

Photos of the Event
Don't miss the pictures of the session! Check them out here!