COVID19: Liquidity Support for Startups up and Running

COVID19: Liquidity Support for Startups up and Running

by May 6, 2020
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On 22 April 2020, the Federal Council agreed a guarantee scheme to support promising startups encountering liquidity problems caused by the coronavirus. The government-accredited loan guarantee organisations facilitate access to bank loans for startups. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO has thus set out the practical criteria for this in consultation with interested cantons and the loan guarantee organisations. Loan guarantee applications can be submitted from 7 May up to 31 August 2020.

Based on the existing loan guarantee scheme, a special guarantee procedure was created to secure bank loans for eligible startup companies. 65% of the loan guarantee is provided by the federal government and 35% is provided by the canton or third parties appointed by the canton. In this way, the federal government and the canton (or third party) jointly guarantee 100% of an amount of up to CHF 1 million per startup company. The total amount guaranteed may not exceed one third of the startup’s 2019 running costs. In justified cases, the canton may deviate from this in its evaluation.

Startups submit a loan guarantee application via the website https://covid19.easygov.swiss/en/for-startups. The loan guarantee application is sent to the participating canton together with all the required documents from EasyGov. A body appointed by the canton reviews the criteria and forwards its evaluation of the loan guarantee application to the responsible loan guarantee organisation. The loan guarantee organisation makes the final decision on the loan guarantee taking into account the evaluation by the body appointed by the canton. On that basis, the company can apply for a guaranteed loan from any bank. Loan guarantee applications which were submitted in full from 7 May up to 31 August 2020 using the above-mentioned platform are taken into consideration.

The cantons of Vaud and Neuchâtel were the first to have confirmed their participation in the support measures for startups. The list of participating cantons is updated on an ongoing basis and the responsible bodies and all information about the procedure is published at https://covid19.easygov.swiss/en/for-startups.

The responsible cantonal bodies can make use of an expert group which is coordinated by Innosuisse – the Swiss Innovation Agency – during the evaluation if required. This group submits an assessment of whether the companies applying meet the requirement as science- or technology-based startups.

The following 13 organisations in the Swiss startup ecosystem with a national focus participate pro bono in the expert group:
Business Angels Switzerland, Digital Switzerland, Gebert Rüf Stiftung, Impact Hub, Innosuisse, Mass Challenge, SEF4KMU, SICTIC, Swiss Entrepreneurs Foundation, Swiss Startup Group, >>Venture>>, VentureLab (IFJ), W.A. de Vigier Foundation.

Which companies are eligible?

  • Startups based in a participating canton and founded after 1 January 2010 but before 1 March 2020
  • Companies limited by shares (AG) and companies with limited liability (GmbH) based in Switzerland.
  • Startups that are not part of the agricultural sector.
  • The startup is not in bankruptcy or composition proceedings or in liquidation
  • Startups that are suffering significant financial and liquidity problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What information is required?

  • Current expenses. In particular, current expenses comprise wages, investment that is not eligible for capitalisation, rents, costs of patent applications and patent lawyers as well as costs for internal or outsourced research and development processes.
  • Annual financial statements as evidence of current expenses in 2019 or, if not available, in 2018
  • Business plans
  • Company details, including contact details of a contact at the company.
  • Details of the lending bank.
  • Loan agreement and/or loan applications for any loans received in accordance with the COVID-19 Joint and Several Loan Guarantee Ordinance (COVID-19-Solidarbürgschaftsverordnung) of 25 March 2020

Additional requirements

  • The startup will confirm that it is not insolvent pursuant to Art. 725 CO at the date it submits the application.
  • The business model is scalable, science- or technology-based and innovative.
  • Any loans pursuant to the COVID-19 Joint and Several Loan Guarantee Ordinance (COVID-19 Solidarbürgschaftsverordnung) of 25 March 2020 will be included.
  • The loan guarantee organisation will decide on the guarantee, taking account of the canton’s assessment. On this basis, the company can apply for a loan with any bank.

 

Comment Fintechnews.ch: So far only the cantons Neuchatel and Vaud are participating, we really hope other cantons such as Zurich, Geneva and Zug will be joining soon!

Featured image credit: Unsplash

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