EquiFund is a fund of funds programme providing equity financing to Greek companies and accelerating venture capital and private equity in Greece.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are responsible for two out of three jobs in Europe. Yet Greece has one of the lowest levels of venture capital and private equity activity of the whole EU, according to Invest Europe, the European venture capital and private equity association.
The Greek government’s fund of funds, EquiFund, has been launched because SMEs need a private equity and venture capital ecosystem to thrive. By making commitments in independently managed funds, EquiFund aims to strengthen the venture capital market in Greece. In turn, this will encourage more entrepreneurs to start up businesses, which will attract more private sector investment.
Recognising that each start-up business passes through a lifecycle, EquiFund’s investment strategy includes three windows: the Innovation window (targeted at researchers and innovators, who are still at the idea and research stage, supporting both Technology Transfer and Acceleration), the Early Stage window (targeted at start-ups who have launched their compa¬nies and whose ideas are achieving initial traction) and the Growth Stage window (targeted at scale-ups who have established businesses with strong sales). Each window is designed to ensure that a Greek start-up or SME (or mid-caps in suitably justified cases) can access the right financing, at the right stage for them.
Equifund was created by the Hellenic Republic in cooperation with the European Investment Fund (EIF).
Equifund is co-financed inter alia with resources from ERDF, national funds, EIF, and also EFSI, through EIB. Strategic partners have also committed supported funds.
Total budget (as of 31.12.2019): 448M euros (200M-OP Competitiveness, 60M-EIF, 31M-EIB, 157M->150 investors inside or outside Greece)
Evidence of success
As of 30.09.2020 the investment activity was EUR 135m to 106 final beneficiaries: EUR 51.2m to 79 beneficiaries in Innovation Window, EUR 54.2m to 27 beneficiaries in Early Stage Window and EUR 29.2m to 5 beneficiaries in Growth Window.
EquiFund investment leveraged even more funding to the beneficiaries by investors who were attracted by EquiFund and invested directly to beneficiaries at the same time; this doubled the impact of EquiFund, with an overall leverage of ERDF funding at around 5.3.
Setting regional allocation targets;
Divergence of regulatory framework obligations from market practice;
Tranching of programme contributions posing liquidity risk;
Post-2023 payments eligibility;
Limit on follow-ons;
Potential for learning or transfer
1. Strong political commitment of the mandator and exemplary cooperation between EIF and the authorities for fast implementation.
2. Market centred character of the initiative to attract quality applicants, facilitate the fundraising process and motivate pitching ideas.
-Address a clear and identifiable market gap in equity financing in the country and design with the actual market in mind
-Clearly and distinctly segregated responsibilities
-Draft overall investment strategy to focus on policy objectives
-Call for Expression of Interest under the exclusive responsibility of EIF
-Assessment and selection of potential final beneficiaries under the exclusive responsibility of the selected fund managers
-Overall management by EIF promoting best market practice and solid corporate governance
3. Regulatory framework during the programming period to deploy an instrument close to market standards.
4. Motives for private investors to support activities in dire fundraising conditions.
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