On January 21st 2022, the Maltese Ministry for Equality, Research and Innovation published the first draft for a National Space Strategy, which is currently open for public consultation until March 4th. The new strategy document is a step forward in the sustainable development of the growing local space sector, and demonstrates the Maltese government’s interest in supporting and investing in the expansion of this industry. It is set to provide a realistic roadmap leading to the year 2027, by which Malta is expected to have made significant strides in the growth of this sector.
The strategy puts forward five thematic pillars that set the direction of Malta’s space-oriented goals, these being: FDI and space business attraction; space innovation; developing and attracting skilled human capital; international regulatory compliance; and emerging technology.
“[The Maltese] Government is committing to work with businesses and researchers to help develop a strong and expanding space sector. Malta must ensure that local enterprises are equipped to seize new opportunities presented by the evolving global space market for business, research, society, the economy, and the environment. The time is right for Malta to implement its first National Space Strategy which will enable the development and expansion of a sustainable space sector and research capacity.” – Owen Bonnici, Minister for Equality, Research and Innovation
The National Space Strategy isn’t the first step Malta has taken towards supporting its growing space economy. In fact, it incorporates an extensive update to the 2017 National Space Policy and the 2019 National Monitoring Report, undertaken by the Malta Council for Science & Technology in collaboration with the European Space Agency, which aligned Maltese policy to European Space Policy to set the initial direction for attracting foreign investment into the sector. Furthermore, the Malta Space Taskforce was set up in 2016, bridging cross-disciplinary expertise and high-level stakeholders with the mandate of identifying opportunities in Malta for engaging in the international space sector and stimulating commercialisation and innovation in the local market.
Growing interest in space has also been mirrored in Maltese academia. Most notable was Project Maleth, a biomedical research project led by Maltese researchers from the University of Malta, which involved biological tissue being taken to the International Space Station to be tested under various conditions. Another significant event was the launching of a weather balloon into the stratosphere, as part of another project by the University of Malta documenting atmospheric conditions and providing the island with its first hyperspectral images.
While great steps are being taken towards the development of this sector, Malta still does not have a dedicated space budget. However, Malta is investing considerably in space through funds provided by the Government Budget Allocation for R&D, as well as by facilitating provision of other funding programmes such as the MCST Space Funds supported by the European Space Agency.
Moreover, being a member state of the European Union, Maltese entities are eligible for various funding programmes issued by the EU, which support start-ups, companies, universities and other institutions engaging in space-related activities. Most notable is Horizon Europe, a €95.5 billion programme dedicated to research and innovation, of which approximately €15 billion are dedicated under the joint cluster: Digital, Industry and Space.
AcrossLimits has a long-held interest in space-oriented research, innovation and related activities, and through its network maintains links with local and international leaders in the sector. With significant experience as primary members in Horizon projects, such as BioExcel2 and H-CLOUD, we remain eager to explore new opportunities in the space sector and to support clients in navigating their way through the various funding options available. If you would like to know more about these opportunities, please let us hear from you at: [email protected]
Project Officer at AcrossLimits