Spain launches private-public technology fund of up to 4 bln euros

MADRID, July 19 (Reuters) – Spain on Monday announced the creation of a new capital risk fund set to raise up to 4 billion euros for public-private investment in technologies such as cloud services, big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain.

Called Next Tech, the fund will support digital startups and promote public-private partnerships in the technology sector’s most in-demand areas, including machine learning, cybersecurity and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The Spanish government will hold minority stakes of up to 49% in the various digital projects and companies, and initially invest up to 2 billion euros over a four-year period, Spain’s Economy ministry said in a statement.

The state-side funds will come from the European Union recovery package and be handled through ICO, one of Spain’s largest credit line programmes, while the remaining 2 billion euros are expected to come from private investment.

Business and state interest in technologies such as machine learning, which trains algorithms to perform new, specialised processes, or biometry, which uses biological data within identification services, has skyrocketed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as economic activity moved online.

Spain will be one of the main beneficiaries of the EU recovery fund after being particularly hard hit by the pandemic, though a recent uptick in its jobs market suggested better days could be within reach. (Reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette; additional reporting by Belen Carreno; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Paul Simao)

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Reuters Staff