Success stories: these companies have already kicked off the NGEU Funds.
The NextGen Funds have earmarked 70,000 million euros for Spain. Of these, 42,000 have already been released throughout 2021 and 2022, and now Brussels is preparing to release the remaining 28,000 million.
We have experienced three years of fund management in Spain. The lessons learned, especially from the PERTE for Electric Vehicles, Naval and Agri-food, have helped the public administrations to perfect their calls and the companies to fine-tune their projects and to know, for example, why it may be interesting to apply as a consortium or individually.
A total of 5,000 calls are expected for this year, according to the calculations of FI Group, the consulting firm chosen by Bankinter to assist Spanish companies in this complex process. We will soon see the second edition of the VEC PERTE, the aid to tourism and the calls of the PERTEs for Industrial Decarbonisation, Circular Economy, Health and Microchips.
García Baquero: leading the consortium of the dairy sector
García Baquero leads one of the most relevant consortiums to adhere to the Agri-food PERTE. A project, CheeseBoost, which brings together 20 companies of different sizes. They are not only from the dairy sector, but also from technology or services and from eight autonomous communities. Objective: a more sustainable, competitive and technologically advanced sector.
Miguel Ángel García Baquero, CEO, explained the project's objectives, estimated at 15 million euros, which include digitalisation and sustainability, ensuring its technological progress throughout the entire value chain of the dairy sector, with a view to increasing its competitiveness in Europe and reinforcing environmental protection. “What really matters is to focus the product towards the market. For the product to be more competitive, differentiated and to seek to be sustainable”, stressed the CEO.
Investments that, without this European aid, would not have been undertaken as ambitiously. Progress in drafting the project throughout 2022 and formally presenting on 15 March was possible thanks to the leadership of García Baquero, which has been permeating the organisation and has required the involvement of the entire workforce, in addition to the “extraordinary work” of FI Group, as recognised by the CEO: they were able to identify the call really well and direct companies to the investments that could fit into this PERTE model. The resolution is expected for around September.
Francisco Javier García Lozano, from FI Group, stressed the value of having a “traditional, family-owned and artisanal company” lead this consortium, which boasts a strong technological transformation facet. “We needed a leader like García Baquero to transform the sector”, said the FI Group consultant.
“Believing in yourself, in your human team and thinking that there is a market for that project. I encourage everyone to keep going because in the end it's worth it. You get a lot from the project dynamics and how your organisation interacts with other companies”, according to the CEO of the Castilian-La Mancha dairy company.
In L. Pernía, they found the perfect formula: Circular Economy + Solar Energy
L. Pernía is a leading circular economy company: it reuses the by-products of the food industry, such as beer bagasse, for reuse in livestock. With 80 years of history, L. Pernía seized the opportunity offered by the NextGen funds, specifically the Renewable Energies PERTE, with a clear aim: to produce its own energy to make industrial processing more economical and competitive.
As explained by Alfonso Pérez Carballo, General Director of L. Pernía, the combination of photovoltaic and thermal energy has multiplied the facility's efficiency by 4. They are no longer dependent on external sources and gas. If food waste, which arrives wet at the plant, is not processed quickly, the product is lost. This requires energy-intensive processes.
The Director General said that because they are an SME, this installation would not have been possible without “ the breathing room offered by Bankinter”, and without European funds: “It was technically feasible, but economically unfeasible”.
For the executive, the key to accessing European financing “is to have a powerful project and surround yourself with the best advisors possible”. And a piece of advice: no fear.
“At Bankinter, you were innovators in having these funds reach Spanish companies”, said Alfonso Pérez Carballo. The project is 97% completed: the execution has been carried out and the investments just have to be justified before the Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving (IDAE). A procedure for which they also have the advice of FI Group.
Zamakona Yards: leveraging the synergies of the Naval PERTE
This naval company with 50 years of history and state-of-the-art shipyards in the Canary Islands and the Basque Country builds and repairs ships and off-shore facilities for clients around the world. They are the current leaders of a consortium that opts for one of the most important projects in the Naval PERTE. With the advice of FI Group, they lead a project that brings together 14 companies from 8 autonomous communities.
“It's not easy. It can be hard if you consider doing things that are not very sensible”, explained Octavio Llinás, International Senior Advisor at Zamakona Yards. “The NextGen funds, he added, are a unique opportunity, although it's not an easy process. There will no other opportunity like the one given by European funds”.
“This is not a speculative PERTE. All the companies in the consortium are very clear about what they are doing, what they are going to do, why they are doing it and what the business vision is”, said the advisor from Zamakona Yards. The PERTE will mean, for example, that they can use 10,000 annual tons of glass sent to landfills and give them a second life in shipbuilding.
“It's important, emphasized Octavio Llinás, that the project is closely embedded in what we know how to do. The calls can be very attractive and can invite you to jump without thinking, but you must look inwards a lot to determine what you know how to do, and what you want to do. This allows us to have a clear vision of where the market is going”.
And he shared one last piece of advice:
Tría Ingeniería: tackling gauge change to revolutionise the transport of goods
Tría Ingeniería has been working on railway projects in Europe and America since 2006. Its specialty is track gauge change that allows trains to get around the different systems without having to swap axles and locomotives.
They applied it to passenger trains but this is now essential in rail freight transport. And they have been collaborating with Adif for years: their technology reduces from 1.5 months to just a week, for example, the time of an intercontinental route such as the one between Beijing and Lisbon.
According to Jorge Olmeda, CFO of Tría Ingeniería, the key to its technology, now promoted with NextGen funds, is in extending the gauge change not only to the axles and wagons but also to the locomotive. Its universal drive heads can be the solution to the continuous changes in tracks faced by freight trains that travel tens of thousands of kilometres from Asia to Europe.
“Being aware, as in the case of Tría, that we can take this technology to freight trains. When you believe in yourself then you can convince other people”, Jorge Olmeda pointed out in the webinar.
“And in order to not make mistakes, you must have good advice and rely on a good partner like Bankinter”, said the CFO of Tria.
10 tips from the heart of the NextGen for Spanish companies
FI Group has spent 25 years advising Spanish companies on access to public financing. Since 2020, with the arrival of the NextGen funds, it has joined individual projects and consortiums, and it has had an unquestionable leading role in the processing of PERTEs in the Spanish industry. FI Group's work alongside Bankinter ranges from the initial analysis to the investment strategy, individually or in consortium, the drafting and documentation of the application, the award and the management and justification of the project throughout its execution.These are the ten tips given by Francisco Javier García Lozano in the CFO Forum webinar, in light of these three years of experience:
- This is a long-distance race. So, it is essential to go ahead and present a quality proposal working in advance of the call window.
- Companies must prioritise the investments that they must make and that need financing. It is not about inventing projects out of thin air, or going in search of grants without a clear strategy.
- Not all investment needs are likely to go to NextGen funds. Only the truly transformative projects. For other smaller projectors, other European aid facilities are still in force.
- The calls for projects set their own rules of the game and some authorise simultaneous aid, but others are exclusive. You have to know how to move in that ecosystem.
- PERTEs mean that different investments, in the short and medium term, do not have to answer different calls and subsidies, a complicated process. They can be grouped in the same file, and thus facilitate the processing and execution of investments and minimise risks.
- European funds make it easier for companies to get ahead of the goals of the 2030 Agenda with non-refundable financing and aid that ensure the viability of investments as considerable as those related to decarbonisation.
- The administrative part is the driest: presenting the project report and then justifying the entire investment in order to receive direct aid. This is a critical point and requires a strong awareness of the project's entire life.
- The project must allow for changes along the way: there must be a Plan B. These contingencies must be foreseen, and the system allows applicants to report and justify them to the public administrations.
- The first step always leads to the second. Responding to the calls gives companies enormous visibility and direct contact with the public administrations. This is the pillar on which future collaborations and public funding processes will be built.
- The visibility a company gains from applying to the NextGen funds extends to the entire business sector. It turns applicants into leading actors, into holders of technology know-how, and opens the way for synergies and working with other companies in a new economy that is circular and collaborative.
Information from the webinar“The success of the European Funds told by its protagonists”, hosted by the Bankinter CFO Forum. With the participation of the executives from the 4 guest companies and:
- Emma Montserrat: Head of European Funds and deputy general director at Bankinter.
- Francisco Javier García Lozano: Business Leader for the Central Zone at FI Group.