The European Investment Fund (EIF), the venture arm of the European Investment Bank, has made its first equity investment in Israel, injecting up to $20 million into a fund being set up by Israel Cleantech Ventures.

“This is the first ever equity investment of the EIF in Israel,” chief executive Pier Luigi Gilbert said on the sidelines of a press conference held in Tel Aviv, announcing the investment. The fund is looking to invest similar amounts in two additional Israeli funds shortly, he said.

“As Start-Up Nation, Israel is at the forefront of innovation,” Gilbert said. The EIF investment marks a sort of a “quality brand” on the funds it invests in, allowing them to raise additional money from other investors.

The EIF’s main mission is to support Europe’s micro, small and medium-sized businesses by helping them to access finance through venture funding, guarantees and microfinance tools. The fund has a portfolio of 600 funds and private equity firms it has invested in, in Europe and around the world, totaling some 12-13 billion euros.

The investment in Israel is part of a financial backing program, InnovFin, set out by Horizon 2020, the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020) of the European Union.