Accelerating innovation in Malta

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Malta is becoming more innovative. The European Innovation Scoreboard makes clear that over recent years our performance has improved at a faster rate than that of the EU. That said, the scoreboard still lists Malta as a ‘Moderate Innovator’, with performance at 85.8 per cent of the EU average.

What does this mean? Being a moderate innovator means that Malta is not yet fulfilling its potential when it comes to entrepreneurship and the development of new technologies and business ideas.

The European Innovation Scoreboard is, therefore, a highly useful tool in identifying both Malta’s strengths and its weaknesses when it comes to innovation. This, in turn, gives us a clear picture of where more work is needed. This information is more vital than ever at a time when the world is facing significant climate and geopolitical challenges and where new technologies offer both hopes and fears of radically transformed economic and working realities.

Looking then at the key weaknesses in Malta’s innovation landscape, we see that there is still not enough support, both from Government and the private sector, for research and development of new ideas. We also need more education around what innovation means and how it can help an economy and society thrive.

This lack of sufficient support manifests itself in some data points in the European Innovation Scoreboard which should alarm us. Indeed, the longer-term decline versus the EU average in finance and support for innovation means that Malta now stands more than 20 percentage points lower against the EU average than it did in 2016. More recently, in 2022-23, the innovation performance of Maltese SME’s declined more than 70 per cent to now stand at just over 57 per cent of the EU average performance. This indicates that whatever innovation is taking place in Malta is happening within a narrow scope and not across the broader economy.

Reversing these trends and maintaining Malta’s overall improvement in innovation requires genuine commitment from all stakeholders, including the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) which I represent in Malta as a Community Officer. The EIT is supported by the European Union under Horizon Europe, the framework programme for Research and Innovation. The EIT aims to help countries improve innovation by providing entrepreneurial education, enabling EU wide networking between innovators across industries to speed up research and avoid fragmentation, and offering a wide range of business creation and acceleration services.

Malta is already reaping tangible benefits from the presence here of the EIT Community with training given to more than 170 innovators and entrepreneurs and more than 20 new ventures receiving financial support. We encourage all innovators and entrepreneurs to reach out to us so we can explore ways in which to enhance our contribution.

Furthermore, our Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) which focus on specific areas like Climate and Urban Mobility are also very active and supported by various stakeholders such as MCAST and the Project Agele Foundation. We continue to actively reach out to Government, education and private sector organisations to help further foster a national, collaborative approach to innovation.

At the end of the day, we all understand that innovation will remain at the heart of our future wellbeing and prosperity. Malta has taken some important strides forward but there is still much to do. As a nation we can, and should, play a bigger role in helping ourselves, Europe, and the wider world to find the solutions we need to face the challenges of today and tomorrow. If we pull together, Malta’s innovation potential can be fulfilled. The EIT Community in Malta stands ready to play its part in accelerating innovation in Malta.

For more information on the EIT Community in Malta, e-mail malta@eitcommunity.eu.

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