SMARTSPEND Conference gave new insights into public and private funding opportunities for clean technologies

The 2nd edition of the Access to Risk Finance SMARTSPEND online conference that spanned over 2 days brought together 22 speakers and moderators, 225 attendees and 63 matchmaking meetings.

The SMARTSPEND Online Conference ‘Access to Risk Finance for Clean Energy Technologies – Financial Instruments to Enable the Clean Energy Transition’ took place in the mornings of the 25th and 26th of May 2021. This conference built on the previous SMARTSPEND event on the 30th September 2020: ‘Financing Clean Energy Transition in the Context of EU Recovery.’

The 2021 conference was divided in four sessions with presentations and discussion panels (link to programme) that have tackled different aspects of public and private funding for several clean technologies in sectors of renewable energy, buildings, batteries and energy networks. The sessions had 344 registered participants and 225 attendees over the 2 days. According to the online poll taken during the conference, attendees came from the following organisations: 26 start-ups, 67 SMEs, 42 large companies, 19 universities, 24 R&D institutions, 50 associations/NGOs, 16 EU institutions, 13 national authorities, 45 consultancies, 43 other organisations.

Another important aspect was the digital matchmaking meetings that took place over 3 sessions, split between the 25th and the 27th of May. During the matchmaking sessions, participants could set meetings with funding experts and private investors to help them to find adequate funding solutions. There were 63 matchmaking sessions of 20 minutes each where clean energy technology developers could talk about their projects and ask questions on funding to European Commission officials, funding experts and private investors.

Patrick Child, Deputy Director-General at DG for Research and Innovation opened the conference. He said that the European Green Deal and upcoming “Fit for 55” legislative package are central to the European agenda and that both public and private funding in clean energy will be essential to adequately finance the energy transition. He stressed that Europe must invest intelligently to accelerate clean energy innovation at all stages of development; Horizon Europe will be key for this innovation and the first energy calls are expected by this summer. The ETS Innovation Fund is expected to take up the good work of Horizon Europe and help to finance projects on the way to commercialisation. The new European Innovation Council will provide new forms of agile funding for companies and start-ups to help them to scale up. A renewed European Sustainable Finance Strategy is being prepared.

SESSION 1 – The EU’s funding and financing offer: new tools for a new decade

This first half of the session introduced the main features of the European Investment Bank’s plan for 2021-2027 for energy demonstration projects with high technological risk, and the results from a previous project financed by the EIB. During the send half, the European Commission explained the features of the ETS Innovation Fund and its first results since it was launched in the summer of 2020. Presenters of both funds gave practical advice to potential project developers on how to successfully apply for funding.

SESSION 2 – National/regional funding opportunities: exploitable synergies to accelerate the clean energy transition

This session focused on other key European funding opportunities that will soon be available under national and regional management. The European Commission introduced the new rules and priorities of the Cohesion Funds for the 2021-2027 period and explained the new Just Transition Fund’s features and coverage. This was followed by a discussion on Interreg programme, with a presentation of best practices in renewable energy projects and its priorities for the next calls. The Recovery and Resilience Facility was discussed and how the national plans under preparation amounting to nearly EUR 750 billion will be essential in financing the energy transition.

Session 3 – Unlocking Private Funding for clean energy demonstration projects

This session gathered private finance providers who explained which type of energy demonstration projects they are financing and which criteria they seek. They also approached the topic of insurance schemes to cover technology risk for energy demonstration projects and how public money can support private capital.

Session 4 – How to access funding to achieve clean energy transition?

The last session of the conference presented the findings of the SMARTSPEND report on ‘Funding instruments for energy transition,’ followed by presentations by successful applicants for clean energy projects. Lastly, the European Commission talked about the new features of the EU’s Research programme Horizon Europe, including a budget of EUR 10 billion to support break through innovations, as well as the five Missions with around a billion each setting priorities.

All SMARTSPEND’s reports and further information is available here

Launch of updated report on EU funding instruments – opportunity for your comments

Check the speakers and programme here

Conference proceedings

Recording sessions 1 and 2

Recording sessions 3 and 4


Session 1 – The EU’s funding and financing offer: new tools for a new decade

Session 1.1 – InvestEU: New Opportunities in the Clean Energy Sector to Boost Investment, Innovation and Job Creation Moderated by: Greg Arrowsmith, Secretary General, EUREC

Presentation: What can the EIB Advisory do for you?  Shiva Dustdar, Head of Division, Innovation Finance Advisory, European Investment Bank

Presentation: Backing visionary entrepreneurs Martin Bruncko, Member of the Investment Committee, EIC Fund

Presentation: Financing from the European Investing Banck: A success story Christopher Ridgewell, CEO, AW Energy

Session 1.2 – ETS Innovation Fund: Driving Innovative Low-Carbon Technologies Towards the Market
Presentation: ETS Innovation Fund: current status Roman Doubrava, Deputy Head of Unit Land Use and Finance for Innovation DG CLIMA

Session 2 – National/regional funding opportunities: exploitable synergies to accelerate the clean energy transition

The next Cohesion Policy Funds for energy projects with an innovative character and the Just Transition Fund Mathieu Fichter, Policy Officer, DG REGIO
Presentation: The Recovery and Resilience Facility Michaela Holl, Agora EnergieWende 
Presentation: The Interreg programme supporting clean energy Mathieu Mori, Programme Director Interreg North-West Europe

Session 3 – Unlocking Private Funding for clean energy demonstration projects (Panel discussion)

Session 4 – How to access funding to achieve clean energy transition?
Presentation: SMARTSPEND Report D2.2 “Mapping report on funding instruments for energy innovation (update)” Marie Latour, Head of Brussels Office, Zabala 

SMARTSPEND is a 3-year EU-funded project running until 30 November 2021, that aims to find new ways to coordinate and increase investments in clean energy. The SMARTSPEND project is supporting the execution of the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) of the European Commission and has two main objectives: to foster the efficiency in allocation of public and private funding for clean energy technologies; and to better inform stakeholders through the publication of 6 reports related to clean energy financing offer and the organisation of a conference on access to risk finance, which will take place during spring 2021.

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