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pr201825en

PR201825en

25/09/2020

PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY WITHIN THE OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARIAT FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES AND DIGITAL ECONOMY

The government aspires for a sustainable Malta built on a digital economy for the strengthening of employment opportunities in the sector 

Minister Carmelo Abela and Parliamentary Secretary Clayton Bartolo emphasise that Malta is looking into becoming a research, development, and innovation centre for established companies and upcoming start-ups

The government’s aspirations to build a sustainable Malta model, on a digital economy for the creation of further digital employment opportunities, was the message put across by Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela and Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services and Digital Economy Clayton Bartolo. They remarked that Malta is looking into becoming a research, development, and innovation centre for established companies and upcoming start-ups. They said that the next identified step is emphasised to close the gap between large enterprises and smaller ones, through the upskilling of the workforce skillset. 

This was highlighted during their address in an online conference organised by the Malta-EU Steering Action Agency (MEUSAC) and the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) tackling the challenges and opportunities in the Research and Innovation (R&I) landscape in the European Union (EU). The conference served as a platform for participants to discuss the key challenges in R&I which can be turned into opportunities for Malta.

Minister Abela remarked how timing is opportune to look towards a sustainable digital economy, as Malta outperforms European counterparts in the use of digital technologies. He noted that 32% of Maltese companies are highly digitised when compared to 18% EU average. 

“If we turn Malta’s strengths to our advantage, we can capitalise even further on digital economic opportunities. I also believe that this would be a win-win for the economy but also of our environment”. Activities and jobs in relation to the development and the testing of technology prototypes and services, while creating better employment opportunities, would create fewer burdens on our environment when compared to more traditional economic sectors. Minister Abela noted that the first step in addressing this matter is through upskilling of our workforce.

The minister noted that, following a publication of the European Commission’s White Paper on Artificial Intelligence, MEUSAC immediately started a consultation process with various stakeholders to gather their views about the future of AI in Europe and to grasp the current issues being faced by practitioners. He said that the exercise showed that there is a need for Europe to become more competitive when compared to other regions like China and the USA - without compromising on European data privacy.

Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services and Digital Economy Clayton Bartolo remarked that innovation goes beyond technological breakthroughs. Through it, the country has the power to create, invent and produce. These tools are essential to building a knowledge-based economy where a digital society can be formed. He added that the Parliamentary Secretariat for Financial Services and Digital Economy will continue to support and incentivise research and innovation through central government funds through the funding programmes run by the Malta Council for Science and Technology, as well as the initiatives of the Secretariat’s other entities. 

“It is important for Maltese entities to look beyond national funding programmes. Despite an encouraging local engagement in the previous EU Framework Programmes, I fully encourage the local research community to look ahead towards Horizon Europe to increase participation,” concluded Parliamentary Secretary Clayton Bartolo. Ms Mandy Falzon, Head of MEUSAC, stated that Europe’s economic and social prosperity depends on its ability to innovate, through a collective effort of different players, instruments and policies involved at local, national and European levels. 

A panel of speakers, composed of Patrick Duffy, Ambassador of Ireland to Malta, Dr Josianne Cutajar, MEP, S&D, Anthea Fabri, Malta Council for Science and Technology, Omar Cutajar, Permanent Representation of Malta to the EU, and Oxana Mercieca, Malta Enterprise, discussed the EU’s R&I agenda, Malta’s contribution, best-practice examples of R&I in the EU member states, and the contribution of society at large to R&I. ​