The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Aegon Asset Management have signed a guarantee agreement supporting a EUR 120 million portfolio of loans to innovative Dutch companies. The agreement was signed under the European Commission’s InnovFin initiative, backed by the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020.

It was made possible by the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) - the central pillar of the European Commission's Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan. This agreement is the first InnovFin SME Guarantee deal in the Netherlands.

Thanks to this EU support, Aegon Asset Management, together with Aegon Custody representing NLII Achtergestelde Leningen Fonds, will provide subordinated loans (loans which will be repaid after all other debt is repaid) to innovative SMEs and small mid-caps at favourable terms. Today's EUR 120 million transaction is expected to benefit around 85 businesses, helping them to grow and improve their capital flows.

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "The deal signed today brings exciting opportunities for small Dutch companies with innovative ideas they want to make a reality. With this fresh injection of EUR 120 million into the Dutch SME eco-system, we are helping our small businesses to grow and create jobs."

Speaking at the signature event in the Hague, EIF Deputy Chief Executive, Roger Havenith, commented: “Aegon Asset Management’s financing activity supports EIF's mission and strategy to enhance innovative SMEs and small mid-caps' access to finance. We are delighted to be signing this InnovFin SME guarantee agreement in the Netherlands. This new signature will help Aegon Asset Management to expand its activities and offer more support to innovative companies, converting excellence in science and research into viable businesses.”

Commenting on the operation, Sarah Russell, Aegon Asset Management’s CEO said: "We are very glad to be able to play our role in supporting SMEs in getting the funding they need to be able to achieve their growth plans as it is in line with our ambition to improve and promote Europe’s competitiveness and the wellbeing of its citizens. Through this initiative we are also able to broaden our offering for our clients to include an opportunity to invest in an investment category that is not easily accessible: SMEs. This way we help our clients to diversify their investment portfolio and achieve their financial obligations.”

The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK) has had an important role in the development of the ALF. State secretary Mona Keijzer of EZK said: “SMEs need adequate financing in order to grow. So I’m pleased that this agreement between the ALF and the EIF will give more businesses easier access to finance. They can then invest in - for example - a new production line, up-to-date equipment or expanding operations abroad. That’s a crucial impetus for the further growth of these SMEs and for our economic growth in general.”