The Maltese government has called on the Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility (PSF) for a Peer Review to help boost its research and innovation (R&I) system. The planned expert peer review will inform the design of Malta’s National R&I Strategy post 2020.
Title: Challenges for R&I policy-making in Malta
Increasing R&I investment in the private sector: Malta's private sector R&I investments have been in decline since 2012. Several funding schemes have been put in place to encourage business R&I activities (e.g., tax incentives and direct funding, Malta Development Bank).
Funding for R&I has been ringfenced from the ERDF operational programme (€72.1), and from the EAFRD programme (€20.2m), while the European Social Fund (ESF) also contributes to the R&I sector through investments in human capital.
Improving the capacity and quality of the science base: the need to further strengthen the knowledge base is duly acknowledged in the National R&I Strategy. In addition to 2020 targets set for PhD students, Malta has heavily invested in research infrastructure (ERDF). In 2017 the University of Malta upgraded its own research programme (UoM Research Fund), which is a breakthrough as it offers high-value grants. First results and progress from all these efforts are already visible.
Strengthening entrepreneurship support and innovation output: Despite the fact that knowledge-intensive services are an important component of the Maltese economy, these represent considerably smaller share of the Maltese exports. Sales of new-to-market innovations as a share of total turnover is also on a downward trend. Novel initiatives implemented or underway in recent years include the Business Start scheme, SME Growth Grant Scheme, Start-Up Investment Grant Scheme, Venture Capital Malta. These contribute to the improved access to finance. Complementary to that are the various initiatives to develop an entrepreneurship culture at all levels of education.