Under the proposed platform, INNEON will offer its services - supporting eco-innovative SMEs towards investment readiness - to Europe’s regions. All EU regions recently developed Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS3), with many defining eco-innovation-based growth strategies. By helping regions to attract and keep eco-innovative SMEs, INNEON services promise to boost regional competitiveness, and deliver low-carbon jobs. “There is a gap in the market,” explained Eric Peirano, Vice President of Technofi, “even regions with development agencies do not currently offer these kind of services to SMEs.”
The new platform was presented at a high-level dinner debate in the European Parliament, hosted by MEP Pablo Zalba Bidegain. The event brought together a large number of European and regional policy makers, showing the growing interest in the role eco-innovation can play towards the goal of sustainable development. “Initiatives like INNEON help put SMEs at the core of this transition,” said Joanna Drake, Deputy Director-General of DG Environment, during her speech.
During the evening, entrepreneurs and investors were invited to share their experiences, highlighting the challenges currently facing eco-innovative businesses in Europe. William Janssen’s company Desolenator, which developed a solar powered water purifier, only found investment after receiving coaching from INNEON experts. For him, business knowledge and access to funding remain large barriers for eco-innovative entrepreneurs, with INNEON showing the added value of more tailored support packages.
In less than two years of operation, INNEON has overseen the presentation of more than 40 investor-ready companies to investors from within the network, out of which financial deals for eight companies have been secured. Despite this success, a number of attractive business opportunities identified still require financing. The proposed Impact Investment Fund, also presented at the event, would look to help bridge this funding gap, with an extra focus on deployment in developing countries.