Research, development and innovation

Strategic context and description of EIB’s 2017 RDI operations

RDI is a key driver of productivity, growth and employment, but it has to be funded ahead of any likely return. The intellectual property and know-how that investments in RDI develop may be intangible, but they are assets, and should be treated as such. Investment in RDI in Europe continues to lag behind competitors such as the USA and south-east Asian countries. Progress towards the Europe 2020 Strategy objective of investing 3% of GDP in R&D is slow so the EIB’s commitment in this field is all the more important.


RDI investment is not limited to research and development and the wider promotion of innovation across the EU economy. It also includes helping to ensure that Europe has the broadband infrastructure needed by all companies, which must stay connected to their suppliers, their trading outlets, and their customers. The 2017 Digital Economy and Society Index indicates that significant disparities persist between different Member States as regards the deployment of digital infrastructure. The EIB continues to support access to fast broadband services as part of its innovation and skills goal.

The EIB’s 2017 investment in RDI took a number of forms:

  • supporting innovative firms in their development and commercialisation of new products, processes and services;
  • promoting public and private sector investment in R&D in the field of information and communications technology, life sciences, food, sustainable agriculture, forestry and low carbon technologies;
  • helping to complete Europe’s digital network and create a single digital market that includes digital services.

The EIB provides loans to finance investments in RDI carried out by SMEs, mid-caps, large companies and publicly-funded research infrastructures throughout the EU-28 Member States. Depending on the nature of the entity or risk level, these loans may be supported by EFSI, InnovFin or other mandates managed by the EIB.


The EIB is increasingly targeting smaller businesses, precisely the type of enterprises that are most negatively affected by market failures in the provision of finance for RDI. 2017 also saw a continuation of the trend where the Bank accepts more of the risk associated with RDI investments.

New RDI operations signed in 2017

The new RDI operations backed by the EIB to the tune of EUR 10.7 billion are likely to support RDI projects worth some EUR 35 billion. The private sector is likely to benefit from EUR 20 billion of RDI investment as a result of these operations and six million telecoms subscribers are expected to gain access to high-speed mobile data services.


Selection of expected results from new RDI operations signed in 2017

Note: These figures do not include RDI support via framework loans and MBIL operations, where the specific use of funds is only known after the funds have been allocated.

[1]Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession

In 2017, the EIB supported RDI projects in fields as diverse as life sciences, software development and e-Commerce, and worked with project promoters ranging from major companies developing new technologies in the energy storage sector to SMEs engaged in developing new software.

Rail track fault-detection systems, MERMEC Group, Italy

Graphene-based electrical storage, Skeleton, Germany and Estonia