Recently, a report was published regarding the European Commission distributing European (ESIF) funds through European crowdfunding platforms. Obviously, if this occurs it will be a boon for both platforms and issuers.
The report was written by Karsten Wenzlaff, Ana Odorovic and Ronald Kleverlaan, along with consulting firm PwC. The authors are well known in the European Fintech and crowdfunding sectors.
Crowdfund Insider connected with the authors of the report. Wenzlaff told CI:
“The Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are the main instrument for the European Union to create long-term growth and cohesion and achieve the policy objectives – it is a huge budget which has increased again for the next budget period 2021-2027. The way it works is that each country gets a certain amount and then the so-called Managing Authorities (MAs) are in charge of distributing the funds according to guidelines by the European Commission. These Managing Authorities are often Ministries for Infrastructure or Development Agency. The vast amount of funds is distributed through grants.”
Wenzlaff explained that the breakthrough of this report is because, for the first time, the European Commission has created templates for the collaboration between the MAs and the crowdfunding platforms. But it has much more relevance beyond that because other public authorities on the regional and the national level can use these templates to collaborate with crowdfunding platforms.
“We hope that these templates can be used by a number of institutions, to boost the growth of platforms and the overall market.”
Wenzlaff said they also consider financial instruments, including equity investments and loans. Since usually grants are given to companies, this is also a huge step, because the introduction of financial instruments in public support means that the private investors can be paired with public money, the public authorities can support the private investor directly through credit risk guarantees or indirectly through co-investing.
The report provides an overview of the current status of the crowdfunding industry in Europe and the potential to use crowdfunding platforms by public authorities to realize the ambitions of the Cohesion Policy and provide funding to projects through crowdfunding platforms. A recent blog post by Kleverlaan outlines the relatively new European Crowdfunding Regulation (ECSP) stating that it should boost the development of crowdfunding across the EU. The ECSP allows platforms to operate across the EU based on a single set of rules, under the supervision of the financial regulator in each Member State. The new rules are expected to become actionable in November of 2021.
The European Cohesion Policy is described as one of the key instruments of the European Union with a substantial budget of €373 billion. The report touts the opportunity for ESIF Managing Authorities (MAs) to take advantage of crowdfunding platforms to channel resources towards segments of the market that may be underserved yet important to the European economy.
Kleverlaan explained that the new ECSP regulation is a catalyst for enabling the European Commission and the Managing Authorities to develop models to work together with crowdfunding platforms, due to the harmonized legal framework.
“We have identified several case studies in which public authorities already implemented a procurement process to select a crowdfunding platform for a project of several years in which match funding instruments were implemented.”
When asked if a managing authority (the government) investing funds in a private firm is the best use of public money, Kleverlaan said they have identified four different blueprint models of how MAs can start working with crowdfunding platforms, each with advantages and disadvantages.
- Providing grants outside a crowdfunding campaign
- Investing through a lending-based crowdfunding platform
- Providing guarantees to investors
- Operating a crowdfunding platform
“In Europe, we see a big shift that the European Commission is looking for models to start using crowdfunding platforms (and other alternative finance companies) to distribute funding to SMEs to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, instead of relying completely on banks. By using the knowledge of the crowd and market knowledge (and data) of the platforms, it is possible to distribute this institutional funding in smaller tickets. It also helps to attract additional private and institutional funding from pension funds to invest in national SME markets.”
Kleverlaan said they expect that Managing Authorities will start in the coming years with pilot projects to test which type of collaboration model works best to reach their policy goals.
“Because for most public authorities this process is new and there are big differences in the maturity of the crowdfunding industry in the member states, it would be important that there will be capacity building support and knowledge and experience sharing between the MAs in different member states.”
The report is available below and may be downloaded here.