The EU has been finding new ways to help small businesses get the money they need to start up or grow. One of the tools it uses is COSME, the 2014-2020 programme to improve competitiveness of SMEs.
Amongst other things, COSME aims to improve access to finance for small businesses through two financial instruments, one for loan guarantees, and the other for equity.
The financial instruments are implemented by the European Investment Fund, through agreements with financial intermediaries in the EU and other countries participating in COSME.
The COSME Loan Guarantee Facility has already supported more than 140,000 SMEs across Europe.
COSME in Austria
For euronews, Serge Rombi went to Vienna in Austria to find out more.
He spoke to Matthias Bischof, Head of International Affairs at Austria Wirtschaftsservice, and asked what, in concrete terms, was being proposed to Austrian entrepreneurs.
Matthias Bischof replied that, as a specialist national bank, Austria Wirtschaftsservice’s role was to guarantee financial offers for companies. Thanks to COSME, the organisation was able to put in place counter-guarantees which made it easier for small companies to obtain bank loans.
To get access to COSME support, clients had to be an SME, with access to a bank, and working on an inspiring project.
He explained the very simple process:
“Speak to your banker. If either his suggestions or your guarantees aren’t enough, come to us, whatever your bank. We are COSME’s only financial intermediary in Austria. And it works in moreorless the same way in all European countries.”
Who has benefited in Austria
Many Austrian SMEs have already taken advantage of the COSME offer.
euronews went to visit Lightglass to find out how they had benefited.
Lightglass designs and manufactures a glass that is a source of intelligent light, which adapts to different environments and emits natural light. Andreas Wiesmüller, one of the company’s co-founders, explained:
“You can see it in windows, doors, elevators, hospitality, surgery rooms, automotive space with self driven cars. So, any of these ecosystems are is a billion dollar market.”
LightGlass: a new way to approach #lighting?
Architizer</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Architizer?src=hash">#Architizer</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Design?src=hash">#Design</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LightGlass?src=hash">#LightGlass</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Glazing?src=hash">#Glazing</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Windows?src=hash">#Windows</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WB365?src=hash">#WB365</a> > <a href="https://t.co/JNfwyUwLSh">https://t.co/JNfwyUwLSh</a> <a href="https://t.co/EXIklm5KZL">pic.twitter.com/EXIklm5KZL</a></p>— WorldBuild365 (WorldBuild365) May 31, 2017
Lightglass works in partnership with Lisec, a global leader in transforming glass. Its Managing Director, Andreas Winter, said of the new glass:
“We’re convinced that this product has the potential to get onto the mass market. We can make machines to produce it in series, and should be able to make it available from next year.”
The technology has won several international prizes. It needed tens of thousands of euros of investment. Investment which was financed, in part, thanks to a bank guarantee granted via COSME.
With thanks to Vienna Tourist Board for the aerial pictures.