articles | 07 November 2023

Cyprus Equity Fund to boost innovative startups

The European Investment Fund (EIF) of the European Investment Bank (EIB), along with Cypriot Finance Ministry, has announced the launch of Cyprus’ very first equity fund.

According to an official announcement, this initiative aims to bridge the financial gap for innovative and emerging businesses in Cyprus. The fund will be backed by a combination of sources, including a government contribution of €27.5 million and the returns from financial tools from previous programme periods (JEREMIE). In addition, the fund manager, 33 East VC, selected by EIF, will raise an additional €10 million from private and institutional investors. Equity funding differs from traditional loans, as it provides capital investment in return for a share of ownership in a business.

In a press conference, both the President of EIB, Werner Hoyer, in one of his final appearances as the head of the EU’s investment bank, and the new Vice President of the bank, Kyriakos Kakouris, along with the Director-General of the Ministry of Finance, George Pantelis, emphasised the importance of enabling small, innovative, and emerging businesses to access financial resources. “The aim of the Cypriot Equity Fund is to facilitate access to financing for innovative and emerging businesses,” Hoyer said, emphasising that innovation is the “next big challenge” for the world and Europe. “Most innovations come from small companies, and it’s crucial to explore what we can do to support small and medium-sized enterprises in Cyprus that wish to pursue innovative business models and products,” he added.

On the other hand, Pantelis stressed that despite significant steps in the field of innovation in the EU, emerging and innovative businesses continue to face financial challenges due to their high-risk nature. “The Equity Funding Fund aims to address this financial gap, and we are delighted with the agreement recently signed between EIF and the Fund Manager,” he said.

Kakouris, Cyprus’ first Vice President at the EIB, highlighted the support provided by the EIB and its president in Cyprus, especially after the financial crisis in 2013. He emphasised his focus on funding projects related to climate change and the green transition, which are among the bank’s central objectives. Moreover, he noted that he initially had reservations about the fund but is now pleased with its establishment.

Additionally, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, EIF’s Secretary-General, noted that the Cypriot Equity Fund reflects two of EIB’s key goals, including supporting innovative entrepreneurs and creating a regional culture for business participation ecosystems. “Great successes come from small ideas,” he emphasised, highlighting EIB’s contribution to successful business ideas in Central European and regional countries. At the same time, Demetris Zoppos, the Fund Manager of 33 East VC, mentioned that their role as managers is to commercialize technologies in high-growth sectors, allowing them to access international markets.

Besides the initial €27.5 million, the fund aims to raise an additional €10 million from private and institutional investors. Zoppos stated that they have already reviewed about 100 business opportunities in six months, considering investment opportunities in areas such as the electronic gaming industry and healthcare technologies. “Our position is that Cyprus has significant potential to evolve into a technological hub,” he concluded.

The launch of the Cyprus Equity Fund represents a major step forward for the country’s startup ecosystem and highlights the commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in the region. It is expected to have a positive impact on the growth of innovative businesses in Cyprus and contribute to the country’s economic development.

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