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Knowledge economy

Financing innovation in the knowledge economy

Small and medium-sized enterprises are often innovation pioneers. And yet hi-tech small businesses in the EBRD regions often struggle to get the finance they need and end up taking their ideas elsewhere. This is especially true at the start-up and growth phases of the corporate lifecycle as early stage venture capital is under-developed in this part of the world.

Under the Knowledge Economy Initiative, the EBRD will seek to improve small hi-tech companies’ access to the entire chain of financing, thereby encouraging forward-thinking entrepreneurs to stay in the region and contribute to growth.

The EBRD invests directly and indirectly through local venture capital funds and leading VC funds from outside the region, as well as in private equity funds, offering its services as a reliable and knowledgeable partner.

At the same time, the EBRD’s Small Business Support programme connects entrepreneurs with the best local and international experts, giving them the know-how they need to develop their companies successfully.

Earlybird enters EBRD region

Germany’s Earlybird, a leading Western European venture capital house, has teamed up with the EBRD to create a fund dedicated to central and eastern Europe and Turkey – the Digital East Fund. This pioneering partnership focuses on early and expansion-stage technology companies. Investment recipients include Flipps, an online video-streaming platform based in Bulgaria, and Tjobs, a private recruitment platform used by most recruitment agencies in Romania. The Fund has attracted in excess of 40 investors from the regional and global investment community at first closing and represents a flagship project in supporting the knowledge economy, innovation and job creation in the Bank’s region. The EBRD’s involvement is aimed at encouraging other major players from the venture capital sector to discover the region’s enormous potential.

Venture Capital Investment Programme (VCIP)

The VCIP is a €100 million facility dedicated to direct equity investments in early and growth-stage technology companies. By championing these businesses, the EBRD aims to encourage international venture capitalists to enter the region and foster a VC financing ecosystem. The investments send a signal to international investors that innovative drive and entrepreneurial spirit are in strong supply in the EBRD’s region.