In 2023, ICO mobilised EUR 12.9 billion in financing to boost the growth and projects of the self-employed, SMEs and companies, double the amount as in the previous year

09 February 2024

  • ICO Mediation Lines, marketed with financial institutions and aimed at promoting the activity of the self-employed and SMEs , have mobilised EUR 2.521 billion in loans for the self-employed and SMEs, a 61% increase compared to 2022
  • Direct financing activity, aimed at boosting the growth of medium-sized enterprises and the development of larger investment projects, increased by 44% to more than EUR 5 billion
  • Guarantee Line, which helped to strengthen the liquidity of companies and to mitigate the economic and social impacts of the war in Ukraine, has mobilised more than EUR 4.9 billion in public-private partnerships in 2023
  • In 2024, the ICO is focusing its activity on the deployment of the 40 billion euros in loans that it has been assigned to manage in the second phase of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, which will be used to finance business projects in public-private partnerships to boost the green and digital transition of the economy.
  • To boost the entrepreneurial ecosystem and high-impact projects, the Fond-ICO Next Tech endowment was doubled to EUR 4 billion in 2023 and the largest Fond-ICO Global call was launched, channelling EUR 900 million of loans from the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan

Instituto de Crédito Oficial (ICO) channelled more than EUR 12.960 billion in financing to the self-employed, SMEs and companies to promote their growth and the development of their projects in 2023. This figure represents an increase of 102% compared to the amount recorded in 2022.

As a national promotional bank, ICO offers Spanish companies a wide range of financing products, which it divides into two large categories: ICO Mediation Lines and Direct Financing programmes, with which it has mobilised a total of 7.530 billion euros.

ICO Mediation Lines are designed to make ICO funds accessible to the self-employed and SMEs in all Autonomous Communities and activity sectors. To this end, the collaboration of financial institutions, which are responsible for marketing these products, is essential, providing them with a widespread reach. Thanks to this public-private partnership scheme, 12,100 self-employed and SME operations were financed in 2023 for an amount of EUR 2.521 billion, a 61% increase compared to 2022.  

In direct financing, ICO has allocated EUR 5.009 billion, 44% more than in 2022, to projects developed by medium and large companies, paying special attention to those that generate a positive social and/or environmental impact. 


In addition, ICO has continued working so that companies can diversify their sources of financing, offering different solutions linked to the acquisition of project bonds and corporate bonds and corporate notes issued by Spanish companies in regulated markets such as the MARF, prioritising companies that are certified as responsible issuers or are listed on sustainability indexes. In total, ICO has invested EUR 1.745 billion through these programmes. 

In addition, ICO relies on Axis, its venture capital subsidiary, to promote financing options complementary to banking, through the four funds it manages: Fond-ICO Next Tech, Fond-ICO Global, Fond-ICO Sustainability and Infrastructures and Fond-ICO Pyme. The investments made by AXIS through these instruments contribute to the growth of startups and scaleups and the development of projects that combine innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Boosting the internationalisation of companies

It is worth highlighting that ICO, as part of its financing activity, continues to be a benchmark in promoting the international activity of Spanish companies and actively contributes to the 2021-2027 Strategy for the Internationalisation of the Spanish Economy. 

Of the total volume of loans registered under the Mediation Lines and direct financing programmes, €1,357 million were earmarked for internationalisation projects. 

In addition, the ICO manages, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Trade, the internationalisation support instruments -FIEM and CARI- with which operations amounting to €464 million have been formalised.

Guarantee Line on behalf of the State

ICO manages, on behalf of the State, the Line of Guarantees set up by the Government to channel financing to companies that are affected by the economic effects of the war in Ukraine, such as the increase in energy, raw materials and electricity prices. 

With the Ukraine Guarantee Line, in collaboration with financial institutions, EUR 4.965 billion in financing have been mobilised in 2023 in more than 22,800 operations, 97% of which allocated to SMEs and the self-employed.

Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan

ICO has continued working to contribute with its know-how and capacity to generate new products, together with the corresponding Ministries and agencies, to the deployment of initiatives included in the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan. 

The approval of the Addendum to the Recovery Plan by the European Commission in October 2023 marked a new milestone in the activity of the ICO Group, which has been assigned the management of 40 billion euros in loans from the second phase of the Recovery Plan, which will help Spanish companies to complete their transformation process and the development of projects that promote the green and digital transition.

ICO is working on the public-private partnership deployment of these resources towards the business fabric through five loan lines: ICO Verde, ICO Empresas y Emprendedores, Fond-ICO Next Tech, Spain Audiovisual Hub and Vivienda.  Between 70 and 75% of the 40 billion euros will be distributed through financial intermediaries, 2/3 to financial institutions and 1/3 to venture capital managers. 

In this line of action, it should be noted that, thanks to the Recovery Plan loans, Fond-ICO Next Tech - an initiative launched in the first phase of the Plan - has increased its endowment to 4 billion euros.

The aim of this fund is to mobilise investments in public-private partnerships to foster the development of innovative, high-impact digital projects and investment in scale-ups. 

Throughout 2023, 9 Fond-ICO Next Tech operations were approved (5 in funds and 4 co-investments in companies) to invest up to 215 million euros. In addition, Spanish contributions of up to €1 billion have been committed to the European Tech Champions Initiative (ETCI) together with the European Investment Fund (EIF) and other EU Member States. 

In December 2023, the 16th Fond-ICO Global call was launched, which is the largest to date, to select the private equity managers with which AXIS will invest up to €900 million of the loans from the second phase of the Recovery Plan in projects that foster the growth and modernisation of the business fabric. 

Financing of sustainability projects

ICO strengthened its role as a promoter of sustainable projects, both social and environmental, in accordance with its 2022-2027 Strategy, aligned with the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, which establishes that 40% of all new financing in the reference period should be sustainable.

In 2023, ICO approved direct financing operations amounting to nearly EUR 5.7 billion. Of this amount, 46% of the total, some EUR 2.846 billion, which will mobilise an investment of EUR 16.314 billion, finance projects with a positive environmental or social impact. The largest amount of approved financing is directed towards supporting the fight against climate change, specifically in the renewable energy and sustainable mobility sectors.

As Implementing Partner for channelling EU funds, ICO launched its first call in 2023 under the Invest EU programme to invest EUR 150 million in sustainable infrastructure and mobilise at least EUR 300 million in partnership with private investors. ICO has also played an active role in the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Facility (AFIF) programme, channelling EUR 16 million in subsidies for two sustainable mobility projects undertaken by Spanish companies. The Institute has supplemented these subsidies with EUR 66 million in financing through blending finance.

AXIS has also strengthened its sustainability performance throughout 2023. It highlights the classification of one of the four funds it manages, Fond-ICO Sustainability and Infrastructures, in the “article 8” category under the EU Sustainable Finance Disclosures Regulation (SFDR), thereby making a commitment to promote social and environmental investments. 

In addition, it increased the endowment, reaching EUR 100 million, of the Social Impact and Sustainability initiative, included within Fond-ICO Pyme. Through this initiative, Fond-ICO Pyme participates in funds that in turn invest in projects and companies that generate a positive impact.

Benchmark issuer of green bonds and social bonds 

ICO issues bonds in the capital markets to carry out its corporate financing activity. In 2023, ICO raised  medium and long-term funds in the amount of EUR 7,314 billion. 

The highlights of the year were two public transactions in a sustainable format. Specifically, ICO launched its tenth social bond and fifth green bond, for the amount of EUR 500 million each. With the two operations carried out in 2023, the amount of sustainability debt issued by ICO stands at EUR 7.55 billion in 15 transactions (10 social and 5 green).

The funds raised through these 15 sustainable operations finance projects that have a positive social and environmental impact. ICO's social bonds have financed 73,097 projects for the self-employed, SMEs and large companies, which in turn have generated or maintained 478,881 jobs. In addition, they have provided 300 job opportunities for people with disabilities, financed 90 social housing units and 2 hospitals, among other benefits for society.