EFSI stands for European Fund for Strategic Investments. This European Commission investment fund was set up by President Jean-Claude Juncker. As a result, the fund is also known as the Juncker Fund.
On Thursday 28 May 2015, an agreement on the EFSI investment programme was reached by the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission. The EFSI was established in order to encourage structural economic growth by means of targeted investment in the area of infrastructure, research, sustainability and SMEs. The financing provided is in the form of loans. On 25 June 2015, the European Parliament voted on the entire Juncker plan, and the EFSI can now officially be launched in September 2015. The EFSI will be run by the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The agreement involved the transfer of 2.2 billion euros from Horizon2020 to the EFSI, despite lobbying from various European university umbrella organisations, including the VSNU. This funding cutback affects the entire programme with the exception of ERC, Marie Sklodowska-Curie, and Spreading Excellence & Widening Participation.
Projects within the EFSI
In the Netherlands, there would as yet seem to be little demand for the EFSI in the area of education, culture and science due to alternative sources such as treasury banking. Furthermore, the EFSI is intended for higher-risk investments, in which the universities do not, in principle, involve themselves.
The EIB itself does not expect that the EFSI will be important to fundamental research. This is also the reason that these items in H2020 were exempt from the cutback. However, there are opportunities to translate the outcomes of research to the market. For example, the EFSI can help to set up spin-offs and start-ups stemming from research, which often face a financial 'valley of death'.
In general, the EIB more actively concerns itself with larger projects, i.e. projects with a scale of at least €200 million (with a €100 million loan from the EIB). However, the EIB is also active in smaller projects in the area of innovation, i.e. projects with a minimum budget of €15 million (with a loan of €7.5 million from the EIB). The expectation is that this minimum will not be lowered under the EFSI. The exact scale of projects under the EFSI is therefore not specified, it is simply stipulated that it will focus on large projects.
In June, the Netherlands EFSI Investment Agency (NEIA) was set up by the Minister of Economic Affairs and the Finance Minister. This platform helps parties interested in the EFSI to submit their proposals. The universities can consult the NEIA if they have any related questions.