“This fund is the first of its kind for Malta, and it is exclusive to Maltese beneficiaries and will serve as a modest start to capacity building within the Maltese space sector”, stated Silvio Schembri, adding that it shall provide financial support for research, development, and innovation in the downstream space sector—specifically targeting projects that deal with the processing and exploitation of data collected through Earth Observation satellites.
“This will help shape a relatively new economic activity that is complementary to Malta’s efforts in modernising the industry through transforming it into knowledge-based one. It supports the competitiveness of Maltese industry, stimulates national innovation and research, as well as fosters international cooperation. The diversification of company portfolios helps to ensure the creation of high quality jobs, continued economic growth that can ultimately translate into prosperity of Maltese citizens”, said Schembri. He further added that the Space Education Programme will follow shortly and shall provide the educational component for young students to learn and generate further interest in this sector.
The Executive Chairman of the Malta Council for Science and Technology Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando said that since the signing of the cooperation agreement with ESA, the MCST has been tasked with the coordination and governance of space related matters. “As beneficiaries of the new research programme, Maltese public, private, research, and academic entities now have the opportunity and the funds to truly explore the potential harboured by satellite data over a large number of thematic areas”.
The fund is a national initiative supported by the European Space Agency through an implementation arrangement signed last March. It shall offer grants for 20-month research projects on the basis of yearly competitive calls. It will provide funding to projects that use satellite imagery over Malta to better approach our nation’s challenges. Such projects will, for example, help with making informed decisions on land use, planning better road infrastructure, tackling illegal immigration more effectively, protecting the environment, better understanding our coastal zone vulnerability, monitoring air quality, and being better prepared when tackling emergency scenarios. The initiative will cover research under the Space Research Fund and educational activities under the Space Education Programme.
Source: Press Release by the Parliamentary Secretariat for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation