Countries with finite natural resources, such as Malta, depend on applied research and innovation to foster economic growth. These have been the driving force behind the success of many local industries. For Malta’s maritime sector, research and innovation is still in its development stage. However, with the establishment of Malta Marittima, the Government will seek to develop a targeted and crosscutting research programme, aimed at realising the high growth potential of the blue economy. Furthermore, this research programme would support the maritime sector to create market led opportunities which are sustainable, have high growth potential and provide high value added economic activities. This can be achieved through strategies that will: i) strengthen the competitiveness of traditional marine industries and facilitate progression to higher value added activities and ii) expand knowledge and explore interfaces between disciplines.
The maritime sector in Malta is predominantly comprised of SMEs and micro enterprises. The proposed Maritime Education Development Council (MEDC), in collaboration with the Ministry for Education and Employment and other institutions, will cooperate with the private sector to create a research and innovation platform. This public-private sector cooperation would lead to the formulation of initiatives to address the needs of the maritime sector.
Through private stakeholder participation, the Government will identify areas that will generate an increase in value added economic activities. In addition, the Government will encourage local enterprise participation in all EU Framework Programmes, particularly through Horizon 2020. Education will be key to drive innovation. Hence, the Government will be committed to increase closer collaboration between institutions and maritime industries in this area. In conjunction with MCST, the Government will identify funds and promote innovative technology transfer initiatives across the four Blue Growth focus areas as identified by Government: Food, Energy, Logistics and Services.
1. A more structured and integrated approach needs to be adopted in order to strengthen the research aspect of the Maritime Sector. Increased coordination and cooperation with other research institutions is essential at the local and international level.
2. The sharing of data and information, particularly which relate to market research, is one of the elements that the Integrated Maritime Policy will attempt to address. Malta should explore further academic relationships with foreign educational institutions and follow international best practices to keep abreast with the development in the global market. This action is aimed to complement the development of the “Virtual Knowledge Centre”, under the IMP-MED project - an initiative with close collaboration of the European Commission, European Investment Bank and International Maritime Organization. This Centre will allow the consolidation and sharing of all the relevant and available technical and sectorial information in the Mediterranean region, which as a result, would facilitate coordination and cooperation to promote investments and innovation, as well as support blue entrepreneurship at sea basin level.
3. The identification and allocation of funds specifically directed towards research and development in the maritime sector is to be encouraged and pursued, even through joint initiatives with the private sector.
Carrying out a study of the new niche markets will lead to the identification of potential economic growth activities. Furthermore, the Government aims to direct the necessary resources towards feasible and realistic growth targets.