“We want to be the first country in Europe coming up with a blockchain strategy that will allow us to harness this technology within government itself,” Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said yesterday when he delivered a keynote at the Follow the Entrepreneur Investor Summit organised by Ariadne Capital in Malta. The two-day event is being held in Malta for the first time after relocating from the UK. The Summit’s main aim is to gather entrepreneurs, start-ups and investors to frame the investment opportunities of the next decade.
"After six successful years of hosting our flagship event in the UK, bringing our summit to Malta this year was a natural choice," said Julie Meyer, Founder and CEO of Ariadne Capital. "Having joined the EU in 2004, Malta has become the financial capital of the second largest GDP zone, not to mention a financial services challenger with smart tax incentives and a remarkable testbed for new digital applications inside of the relatively small country infrastructure."
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addresses some 400 attendees at the Follow the Entrepreneur Investor Summit on Monday morning.
Prime Minister Muscat highlighted Malta’s attractive investment climate and stressed that the island’s future will be determined by its ability to provide a platform for a wide range of economic activities. “We like to experiment, like to test the limits of where we can go and what we can do”, Muscat said. When it comes to the blockchain, Muscat emphasised that Malta already has concrete ideas to use this technology in its land registry and in the health sector.
Starting up in Malta
British entrepreneur Mark Weingard, who recently bought a 9% share in MIDI plc, sent a strong message to the global investment community: “Come to Malta, where you can be a big fish in a small pond. You can really make a difference here.”
There is an opportunity in nearly all sectors of the economy by leveraging technology, and empowering and educating the workforce, Economy Minister Chris Cardona pointed out. The government is also working to place Malta as the new destination for start-ups in the Mediterranean by planning on setting up a campus for start-ups, he added.
Telecoms at the centre
The role of telecoms, technology and digital applications in driving future investment were other prominent themes. “We need to better understand our role in the value chain and focus more on the customer rather than on our financial and technological performance indicators,” Attila Keszeg, CEO of GO plc, said.
Melita CEO Harald Rösch said that infrastruture investments will transform Malta's telecoms market in the coming months. However, he also believes that Malta's telcos need to make a bigger effort to bring the infrastructure underground to make the system more reliable.
Harald Rösch, CEO of Melita plc, promised that “Malta will shortly become the country with the most powerful telecoms network in Europe.” He said that the company aims to invest in technology that can provide one gigabit speed over its fixed internet infrastructure, while moving towards 5G in mobile communications. Rösch said that should the planned merger between Melita and Vodafone Malta be approved, these infrastructure upgrades could be in place by end of 2018 rather than 2020 if they had to be carried out solely by Melita.
Photo credit: DOI - Jeremy Wonnacott