Emerging Europe’s start-up scene is thriving: new money and new ideas are coming onto the market all the time. To keep you up to date with the latest investments, innovations, movers and shakers, every week Emerging Europe brings you a round-up of the region’s start-up news.
Zvilo: Balkans-facing digital bank secures 50 million euros loan from Fasanara Capital
Zvilo, a credit-led digital bank for the Balkans and emerging markets last week secured a debt facility of 50 million euros from Fasanara Capital — an independent, owner-managed alternative asset management company.
This debt facility will allow Zvilo to rapidly scale and subsequently expand its provision of working capital for the 800,000+ SMEs situated in the Balkans.
This is vital, as even before the recent surge in energy costs, around 40 per cent of SMEs in the Balkans sought loans to expand their operations. However, high collateral requirements in the Balkans (almost 200 per cent of loan value) make financing inaccessible, particularly for SMEs.
Zvilo believes that it is needed now more than ever as the higher cost of energy is making it harder for SMEs to maintain their liquidity and run a sustainable business, not to mention the increased cost of inputs for those who import and are in production.
“The heart of our business proposition is to dramatically transform the financial landscape of the SMEs in the Balkans by providing short term working capital facilities without the need of traditional collateral and paper trails that SMEs are currently subject to,” says Admir Imami, chairman of Zvilo.
“We aim to offer bridge capital to those businesses seeking to finance trade flows originating in and from the Balkans; all automated through Zvilo’s proprietary platform, which combines scale and accessibility from the outset.”
CybExer Technologies: Exploring the resilience of smart cities
CybExer Technologies, a NATO-awarded Estonian cybersecurity company, last week announced it will commit 1.3 million euros to a research project that will explore the resiliency of smart city mobility solutions using cyber range technology.
The project will be part funded by a 900,000+ euros grant secured via Enterprise Estonia’s Applied Research Programme, which supports the knowledge-intensive product and technology development of Estonian companies. A total of 27 projects totalling 18.9 million euros were awarded grants in the third round of the initiative.
CybExer will commit an additional 300,000+ euros towards the project, Applied research on cyber security of smart city mobility solutions based on cyber range technology, which aims to research the resilience of smart city mobility solutions using cyber range technology in order to protect cities and civilian infrastructure against cyber disruptions.
The security goals of a smart city should be grounded on both the objectives of traditional IT to secure data as well as those of OT to ensure safety and resiliency of systems and processes. Cyber Range technology comes into play to create and study the virtual models of smart city devices and the implications of their interconnectivity.
“A successful application of smart city elements requires very high-level knowledge of cyber threats and vulnerability surfaces,” says Kristiina Omri, CybExer Technologies director of special programmes.
“In this project we will research the cybersecurity interdependencies of smart city mobility solutions and bring geospatial information to cyber ranges for a better understanding and management of smart cities. We are very open to further collaboration on cyber security with cities and municipalities.”
With this milestone, CybExer Technologies is paving the way for a dedicated partnership with cities, municipalities, and developers of smart city solutions to increase cyber security resilience. This specific partnership entails cyber range-based trainings, exercises, tools for situational awareness and testing of smart city solutions.
“Estonian companies are in global competition, and in the current situation where input prices and salary expectations are rising, knowledge-intensive development work is central to helping our companies be successful,” says Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Kristjan Järvan.
“It is also important that our companies move up the value chain and, thanks to this, the added value they produce increases. At the same time, this stage of applied research is the riskiest, also called the ‘valley of death’ of development, because the investments are large and there is no certainty of success. It is the state’s responsibility to help entrepreneurs in this regard and to bear some of the risks.”
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