The Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) launched the National Strategy for Research and Innovation for 2007-2010, entitled 'Building and Sustaining the Research and Innovation (R&I) Enabling Framework' in 2006. It highlighted Malta's need to rapidly improve its R&I performance, and in essence, to see R&I as a fundamental pivot / driver of the Maltese economy.
With the coming to an end of the time period covered by the National R&I Strategic Plan 2007-2010, the need was felt to actively reflect on achievements, challenges and changes which have taken place over the past years and design a new national R&I strategic plan which builds on progress made and lessons learnt in implementing the previous Plan. The strategic plan will provide a policy framework for the coming decade, and will take into consideration; inter alia, on-going work in the preparation of thematic plans in several sectors. The plan will be based on strong stakeholder consultation. A draft R&I Strategic Plan was issued for public consultation in December 2011.
Malta remains committed to improving its ranking in Research and Innovation capacity and performance as reflected in the Innovation Union Scoreboard (IUS). The IUS for 2011 (published in February 2012) provides a comparative assessment of Malta's innovation performance with the EU-27. The different Member States are classified into four country groups, Innovation Leaders, Innovation Followers, Moderate Innovators and the Modest Innovators. Since 2009 Malta has been classified as a Moderate Innovator and has managed to keep its position within this group since then. Malta has also been identified as one of the growth leaders within the 'Moderate Innovators' group.
When assessing the performance of each indicator it can be noted that Malta has registered a percentage growth in just over half of the indictors, 13 out of 24 indicators. Malta’s performance over the past years reflects the increasing awareness of the importance of innovation in building a knowledge-based economy, thus the importance of these economic activities for the country. This improvement can have a multiplier effect on the economy at large as ,through improving its innovation performance, Malta increases its competitiveness and its attractiveness to foreign investment.
The National Strategic Plan for Research and Innovation 2007-2010 provided a number of recommendations aimed towards sustaining technological innovation, based on the strategic objectives of addressing national issues, enabling SMEs to innovate and focusing on selected areas of performance. These recommendations led to a number of measures, including the focussing of the National R&I Programme on four areas of priority, the requirement (within this same programme) for cooperation between academia and industry, the setting up of a Technology Transfer Office at the University of Malta and several schemes designed specifically to assist businesses to invest more in R&D and innovation.
The draft 2020 strategic plan includes a dedicated chapter focussing on innovation and proposes several new measures to strenghten Malta's innovation capacity further. This chapter, together with the rest of the draft 2020 plan, are currently being updated further to the public consultation undertaken.
Alongside innovation, access to R&D is essential for businesses to develop and stay competitive.
Intellectual property must be protected to encourage innovation.
The Malta Business Bureau provides the business community with a direct channel to the various EU institutions and acts as a source of information on EU regulations.
Among its array of services, the Malta Federation of Industry (FOI) provides its members with up-to-date information on EU-funding available through calls for proposals or tenders and is involved in a number of EU funded projects.
Maltese businesses seeking to become competitive through research and innovation can seek funding from the MCST under the National R&I Programme and other programmes available in Malta.
The National R&I Programme is a funding programme for applied research and innovation projects in the fields of science and technology managed and administered by the MCST under its National Strategic Plan for R&I: 2007-2010. Calls under this programme are issued yearly. The R&I Programme for 2012 was launched in December 2011. A total of forty six proposals were received, requesting a total of €8.3M in funding. A total of thirty seven proposals were shortlisted, out of which seven projects have been selected for funding. The total budget available for the 2012 R&I Programme is €1.4 million. In addition, in March 2012, MCST launched a Commercialisation Programme, with the aim of assisting technology owners to study the feasibility of taking the technology to market, particularly to attract capital investment. It is particularly intended for successful recipients of funds under the National R&I Programme to help them move their technology closer to market. It is planned for this programme to be a yearly programme which complements the National R&I Programme. The available budget for the Commercialisation Programme for the year 2012 is €200,000. Of the 8 proposals submitted under the first call for this programme, 3 have been selected.
The European Union Programmes Agency (EUPA) helps individuals secure funding under the various educational programmes offered by the European Commission.