EBRD promotes innovation in green trade finance

By Axel  Reiserer

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Innovation creates businesses. Businesses need trade. And trade needs to be sustainable.

Combining all three elements the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is joining this year’s NTT DATA Open Innovation Contest as a partner in the search for potential collaborations with start-ups who have innovative ideas in the area of sustainable trade finance.

NTT DATA is a leading global IT services provider. It launched the Open Invitation Contest in 2014 with the aim of encouraging the emergence of new businesses through open innovation. To date, NTT DATA has hosted 10 global contests that uncover disruptive ideas and ground-breaking innovations.

This year, the EBRD is joining the contest as a partner for the first time by providing a challenge – to automate the assessment of its green trade finance transactions. The introduction of automated assessment based on publicly available and searchable databases of green technologies and materials will allow the EBRD to scale up its green trade finance over the coming years.

For the contest, start-ups will submit business ideas for each challenge and pitch their proposals in regional competitions. Start-ups chosen in the regional competitions will then be invited to participate in the grand finale in January 2021. The winner will receive technical and business support from NTT DATA to implement a proof of concept with up to US$ 100,000 in support for associated costs such a travel, operations and hardware/software.

Francis Malige, EBRD Managing Director, Financial Institutions, said: “This year has demonstrated like perhaps no other how vital it is to keep trade flowing. Trade is the bloodstream of the global economy. In order to perform this role and to adapt to present and future challenges we need innovation. We are very pleased to join the prestigious NTT DATA Open Innovation Contest and we encourage all innovative entrepreneurs with bright trade finance ideas to come forward with their imaginative submissions.”

The EBRD’s Green Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) allows partner banks to use their existing TFP facilities for the financing of exports, imports and the local distribution of imported green technologies and materials, in line with the EBRD’s Green Economy Transition (GET) approach. The GET expertise provided by the EBRD’s energy efficiency and climate change experts has been instrumental in the development of the Green TFP. The EBRD now looks to further develop the Green TFP through innovations in the area of automation and digitalisation.

Since 2016, Green TFP has supported almost 900 foreign trade transactions involving trade in higher-performance technologies and materials with a total volume of €675 million across 22 economies where the EBRD invests. These resulted in annual energy savings of 1,513,200 MWh, water savings of 1,681,399 m3 and emission reductions of 605,376 tonnes, CO2 equivalent.

The EBRD’s TFP, launched in 1999, aims to promote foreign trade to, from and among the countries in which the EBRD invests. Through the programme, the EBRD provides guarantees to international confirming banks and short-term loans to selected banks and factoring companies for on-lending to local exporters, importers and distributors. The EBRD’s TFP currently includes more than 120 partner banks in 30 economies where the EBRD invests, and more than 800 confirming banks worldwide.

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