What is the Future Growth Loan Scheme?
As of its expansion, the Future Growth Loan Scheme makes up to €800m of loans available for terms of 7-10 years. This scheme is available to eligible businesses in Ireland, including those in the primary agriculture (farmers) and seafood sectors, to support strategic long-term investment. Finance provided under the scheme is competitively priced and offered at favourable terms. The scheme first launched with a total funding of €300m in 2019. The additional €500m under the expanded scheme will be made available through participating financial providers.
The initial maximum interest rate is capped at 4.5% for loans up to €249,999 and 3.5% for loans more than or equal to €250,000 for the first six months. The rates thereafter are variable and will be dependent on the cost of funds at that point in time, however the credit margin component of the price has been capped. These rates represent a significant saving compared with the prevailing rates that are otherwise being offered for similar loans on the market.
Loans range from €25,000 to €3 million per eligible business, with loans up to €500,000 available unsecured.
The Future Growth Loan Scheme is offered by the Government of Ireland, through the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, supported by the EIB Group’s Guarantee Facility.
The scheme is operated by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through participating lenders.
What kind of businesses are eligible for the scheme?
This scheme is available to eligible SME and Small Mid-Cap businesses, including those in the primary agriculture (farming) and seafood (fishing) sectors in Ireland, to support strategic long-term investment.
The definition of Small Mid-Caps can be found here: InnovFin SME Guarantee (PDF, 230KB)
How can businesses apply for the scheme?
The Future Growth Loan Scheme features a two-stage application process:
- Applications for eligibility under the scheme will be made through the SBCI website. The SBCI will assess the applications and those successful will be issued an eligibility reference number;
- Apply for a loan under the scheme with one of the participating finance providers using the eligibility reference number.
If I already have an eligibility code, will I need to apply for a new one?
Eligibility reference numbers issued before the launch of the expansion will still be eligible as long as they have not yet lapsed. Once issued, an eligibility reference number is active for six months.
Do I need a business plan?
For loans in excess of €250,000, a Business Plan must be completed as part of the application process. Business plan guidance is available on the SBCI website.
What can the loans be used for?
Loans can be used for:
- Investment in tangible or intangible assets to increase productivity and/or efficiency, set up a new establishment or extend an existing one.
- Diversification into new products or a change in a production process.
- Investment in tangible or intangible assets for process and organisational innovation.
- Investment in tangible and intangible assets on agricultural holdings linked to primary agricultural production (excludes purchase of land other than site costs or livestock).
- Investment in connection with the processing and marketing of agricultural products.
Can loans granted under the scheme be used to refinance existing loans?
No, loans granted under this scheme cannot be used to refinance existing loans.
Are applicants required to be clients of State Agencies?
No, the scheme is open to all businesses that meet the eligibility criteria. Therefore, both State Agency clients and businesses that are not in any way engaged with State Agencies are encouraged to apply. State agencies include Enterprise Ireland, the Local Enterprise Office (LEOs) and Bord Bia for example.
Are any of the loans aimed at particular sectors?
As the agriculture and food sector have a particular exposure to the UK market, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine contributed 40% of the State funding. As a result, at least 40% of the fund will be available to Primary Agriculture (farmers) / Food businesses.
Which finance providers are participating in the scheme?
The current participating finance providers will continue to offer the scheme. These are AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and KBC. Two new providers have applied to deliver the scheme and the SBCI is currently engaging with these with a view to their participation in the scheme.
What is the State Aid basis for the scheme?
Loans in this Scheme are subject to the State aid rules listed below. The relevant rules will depend on the borrower and the loan type.
i. General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) – Comm. Reg. (EU) No 651/2014 (Articles 17 and 29)
ii. Agriculture Block Exemption Regulation (ABER) – Comm. Reg. (EU) No 702/2014) (Articles 14 and 17)
iii. De Minimis Regulation – Comm. Reg. (EU) No 1407/2013
More information on State Aid rules
Will any sectors not be eligible for the scheme?
The European Investment Fund Guidelines on restricted sectors apply. These restrictions prohibit EIF from operations in certain economic sectors which are considered not to be compatible with the ethical or social basis of the public mission of the European Investment Fund.
EIF Restricted Sectors Guidelines (PDF, 55KB)
What can I do if my loan application is refused by a finance provider after passing the initial eligibility?
In the event that a business has made a formal loan application to one of the participating finance providers and has been refused, the applicant must first make an appeal to the finance provider. If this internal appeal is unsuccessful, then an appeal may be made to the Credit Review Office, if the lender is a participating bank.