The EU and Business in Norway
The European Union (EU) works with a variety of partners to improve access to financing for businesses in Europe, with a particular focus on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Access to adequate and affordable financing helps entrepreneurs starts a new business. Financing also helps businesses grow and develop new and innovative products and services. Businesses in Norway can access funding directly and indirectly from the EU from the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, or various local and national intermediaries.
The European Commission provides grants for projects that contributing to meeting the EU's policy objectives. Calls for proposals are issued by the Commission or one of its executive agencies. Through a competitive process, grants are provided to businesses and other organisations for new projects related to innovation, research, the environment, training, and other EU policy objectives. For an up-to-date listing of calls for proposals, visit www.ec.europa.eu/contracts_grants/grants_en.htm. Loans, grants and seed capital are also available directly from national sources such as Innovation Norway (www.innovasjonnorge.no). Financing is provided available for innovative projects and investments in construction, machinery and other equipment, including high-risk projects.
The European Union works with local and national intermediaries to provide financing options for business in Norway. The EU provides indirect funding and financing through partners, allowing these intermediaries to offer businesses more affordable financing products. These sources of finance are in addition to supports provided by various private and public financial institutions in Norway, such as banks that provide loans to businesses.
EU structural funds, such as the European Regional Development Fund, may be used to facilitate access to financing. In Norway, structural funds and national funding are used to support start-up and early stage. Delivered through WHEB Ventures (www.whebparnters.com), equity and capital are provided to assist with the commercialisation of clean technology. The programme also involves the participation of the European Investment Bank's European Investment Fund and the EU's Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP).
The Eurostars programme gives SMEs access to grants for research and development. Large companies with 250 or more employees, universities and research organisations are also eligible for funding. Grants can cover 50 percent of eligible project costs for SMEs and up to 30 percent of costs for large companies. If a Norwegian SME is involved in a project with a large company, up to 70 percent of projects costs may be covered if the budget for the SME is at least 50 percent of the total budget for Norwegian partners. Eurostars grants support research and development projects. Projects of up to three years may be funded for up to NOK 4 million. All projects must involve at least one other member country. For more information about Eurostars, visit www.eurostars-eureka.eu.
European Investment Bank Group
Indirect EU financing is also provided through the European Investment Bank Group and its partners in Norway. The European Investment Bank (EIB) provides financing in the form of loans and guarantees to businesses in Norway. Financing for up to €7.5 million may be invested in research, development and innovation activities undertaken by primarily mid-sized companies.
Financing from the EIB's European Investment Fund, or EIF, is available from a number of financial intermediaries. Criteria for investments made through the EIF are set by individual EIB and EIF partners. EIF-backed equity and venture capital investments open to businesses in Norway are focused on projects and activities in the life sciences and information technology sectors. Financing is generally provided to SMEs with less than 250 employees. Business in Norway are eligible for EIF-backed financing from Accent Equity (www.accentequity.se), Metric Capital (www.metric-capital.com), HBM Partners (www.hbmpartners.com), DN Capital (www.dncapital.com), Northzone (www.northzone.com), and Sunstone Capital (www.sunstonecapital.com). For more information about specific EIF intermediaries, visit www.europa.eu/youreurope/business/funding-grants/access-to-finance.
Information and Resources
From 2014, research and innovation funding for businesses and other organisations is guided by Horizon 2020. The Horizon 2020 framework brings together supports previously delivered through Framework Programmes for Research and Technical Development, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), and the CIP. For more information about Horizon 2020, visit ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020.
Advice on European funding sources is available from the Enterprise Europe Network (een.ec.europea.eu). Norwegian businesses can access free advice from the Network on a range of EU issues, including EU policies, procurement, financing and regulations. European Enterprise Network branches are located in cities across Norway, including Oslo, Stavanger, Tromso and Ås.