Malta sees an opportunity to play host to entrepreneurs and start-ups with their sights on outer space and plans to launch a framework that would strengthen its appeal as a hub for satellite and space mining companies. Building on its vast experience in corporate structuring, as well as its progressive stance on new technologies such as blockchain, big data, artificial intelligence and internet of things, Malta could offer fertile ground for space-based enterprises to grow. The country is currently developing tailor-made incentives and a tax regime for space start-ups and satellite communication companies that register their operations in Malta.
Trillion Dollar Industry
Long the domain of governments and state-funded agencies, the commercial space sector is growing at an unprecedented rate driven by lower costs and increasingly powerful space-based applications deployed on ever more compact satellites. Forecasts predict that the space economy will generate up to US$2.7 trillion by the 2040s. For the first time in the country’s history, Malta now seeks to commercialise the opportunities space offers. The island does not intend to launch space missions but wants to be the home of companies seeking to utilise space resources, including water, hydrogen, oxygen and precious metals, as well as firms that develop space applications, for instance to help monitor climate change, agriculture, maritime, epidemics and disaster resilience to name but a few.
National Space Strategy
While Malta’s national space strategy has yet to be published, the country has announced its ambition to create a new economic sector, including educational facilities, research labs and firms that develop solutions for the commercial exploration and utilisation of space resources. To support this nascent industry and attract companies to its shores, Malta says it wants to build on what is already on offer in competing finance centres such as Luxembourg and the Isle of Man, which have long dominated the European commercial space and satellite sector. The Isle of Man has attracted global players involved in the ownership and operation of satellites due to an advantageous fiscal regime, while Luxembourg has become a hub for the business of space mining space by giving companies the rights to resources that they extract from asteroids and other objects. Although Malta is setting its strategic priorities, the island’s decision to take a leadership role amongst nations and commit itself to the new space economy promises to open up various opportunities for companies to develop support services for this fledging industry. From a financial centre perspective, this includes financing solutions, insurance, brokering, risk management services, data analytics, and many more.
Emerging Innovation Hub
Malta has a unique opportunity as an emerging technology hub known for fostering innovation and growth. After positioning Malta as Blockchain Island, the island’s government is now pursuing the development of a holistic national strategy on AI. As industries like quantum computing, big data, AI, the Internet of Things and space technology converge, Malta’s place at the forefront of technology and regulatory innovation makes it an interesting destination for commercial space entrepreneurs.