In January 2021, Tech.mt continued its mandate of listening and acting on the industry’s needs. The aim is to remain pivotal in making sure technology and digital platforms are used in the best way possible engraining an economy which is based on digital resilience and digital innovation.
Technology is the perfect tool to influence good practices and the application of compliance regulations. It is an enabler and an assistant to the much needed reform of the operations of all the economic sectors. Malta is well known for its elevated legal frameworks however effective execution cannot be directly proven. Technology is the best assistant to reform this culture and start providing proof in effectiveness and execution based on good governance and compliance.
Tech.mt remains committed to guiding technology companies in the right direction through expert advice, solution driven services, a platform for participation in events and by facilitating connections for businesses to scale or internationalise.
“Technology is the perfect tool to influence good practices and the application of compliance regulations. It is an enabler and an assistant to the much needed reform of the operations of all the economic sectors. “
Dana Farrugia – CEO at Tech.mt
Guiding businesses in their digitilisation journey
The main campaign narrative in 2021 has been to guide businesses to take their business online. With two parallel campaigns targeted towards well-established businesses and smaller businesses respectively the commitment remains to guiding all levels and sizes of businesses to create an online presence and tap into the world of eCommerce. The marketing efforts are focused on guiding businesses to sell across a website, social media, marketplaces like Amazon, and live in-person, with built-in international payment tools and shipping support. For those who already have a website for their business, but don’t have an online ordering option, guidance on how to add a store to their existing online portals and to choose payment options to accept credit card payments quickly and securely is provided.
At Tech.mt the need to create real-life case studies of tech companies growing in Malta, was established. The aim of these success stories is to show the resilience of the technology sector and to promote the assistance that Tech.mt can offer solution owners to get their work off the ground and into the local market. Throughout the first half of 2021, work commenced on an enhanced series documenting the digitisation journey of businesses, which should serve as an inspiration to businesses looking to take the digitisation plunge.
Promoting Malta on an International level
Participation in events and summits at an international level is one of Tech.mt’s main priorities, in order to maximize the benefits of showcasing Malta as an attractive technological hub and to offer an opportunity for the Maltese local business community to participate and network with potential investors, partners and clients. The strategy for 2021, even if virtually, is focused on a more diverse and global reach, exploring new and exciting challenges in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
In the first half of 2021, Tech.mt participated in several international events, starting with the Startup Blink Ecosystem Summit in January and followed by the Namibia Virtual B2B Matchmaking in February. In quarter two, Tech.mt was present during the UK Fintech Week, the Rwanda B2B Matchmaking and the European Health-Tech Innovation week.
As the entity which is continuously promoting Malta as a tech hub amongst start-ups, entrepreneurs, and investors in the international community, establishing a fruitful relationship with foreign stakeholders is a necessity. 2020 saw the establishment of Tech.mt’s partnership with international organizations such as UNICEF by which Tech.mt will be piloting the Policy Guidance on AI for Children in 2021. Other organizations which Tech.mt is currently in contact with, include the African ICT Foundation by which an MoU is envisaged for this year as well.
In order to enhance the preparation of Maltese diplomats before their posting to their missions abroad, Tech.mt in collaboration with the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs, prepared and delivered a two-hour training session to help in familiarising diplomats with the Tech.mt foundation and its scope and mandate. The training, carried out in May 2021, saw approximately 15 diplomats engaging in a training session which will undoubtably help the diplomats in identifying areas that can be attractive to Tech.mt.
As part of the efforts to map companies within the local tech sector, Tech.mt embarked on a mission to engage local companies to form part of an online directory which will provide many tangible benefits to its subscribers. This directory aims at putting together a catalogue of products/services offered by local tech companies and shall be marketed by Tech.mt during high-level fairs and conferences overseas. Registration is completely free of charge, and all registrants will be informed of incentives and opportunities to promote their tech offerings both on a local and international level. As part of its mission to assist the local Technology sector, Tech.mt representatives will be at the disposal of all registrants to offer their assistance in any way possible.
Participation in local events
Earlier this year a collaboration between Tech.mt and MCST lead to a webinar on Research and Innovation. Moreover, Tech.mt participated in the Starting a Business in the EU and Malta’s Digital Ecosystem webinar organized by Malta Business; the FinTalks podcast series by Finance Malta; a webinar organised by MITLA on the topic of GDPR considerations and consent management in relation to tech and businesses; a pitching event for Distinct solutions in Manufacturing and Retail organised by The Malta Chamber in collaboration with Tech.mt; and in the Digital Skills for a Conscious and Active Use of Digital Technologies discussion. Tech.mt was also invited to participate in a panel discussion themed ‘Digital Rights: A preliminary study on citizens’ awareness on the use of internet and social media’ organised by the office of MEP Alex Agius Saliba; and to discuss learning and career pathways with students at St. Margaret College.
Supporting industry through Tech in Malta
Tech.mt has also committed to continue meeting up with local businesses to aid them in terms of tapping into national grants and incentives, to provide our expertise to create new avenues for growth, and to understand their needs and expectations going forward.
On this note, Tech.mt launched an expression of interest to attract industry players willing to offer their expertise and knowledge to local start-ups and academia. The main aim of this call was to assist start-ups and academia with an innovative concept and provide them with unbiased feedback from an external perspective, management advice, strategic planning and marketing tactics. To date, 25 of the biggest players in the tech industry have expressed their willingness to commit to over 200 hours of consultancy related to validation, assessment, marketing, strategy and internationalization. This ongoing initiative is open to Maltese tech start-ups/ students with innovative business concepts. Considering this is a recent initiative implemented by Tech.mt, the foundation has already had a healthy number of beneficiaries availing themselves of consultation with very positive feedback received from both the beneficiaries and consultants alike.
In collaboration with the China IPR SME Helpdesk, Tech.mt has published an expression of interest for Malta-based businesses to register their interest for a specialised 40-minute training session run by an expert of the Helpdesk. The objective of the training is to provide an overview of protection of different types of Intellectual Property Rights in China (trademarks, copyrights, patents, trade secrets), the latest technology transfer conditions as well as to discuss the role of various contracts in protecting IP when transferring technology to China.
The digital revolution has enabled more businesses to engage in eCommerce, locally generating over €2.1 billion in total turnover in 2020. The NSO estimates that Malta’s eCommerce sales are 5% higher than the EU-27 average and sales through eCommerce have been steadily increasing year on year.
This, together with the outbreak of a global pandemic has accentuated the need for businesses to trade online and hence, the demand for online payment gateway services has surged. At Tech.mt, local payment gateway service providers are given as much exposure as possible to reach businesses who are looking for such services. Therefore, Tech.mt is planning on spearheading a campaign to shed light on the importance of having a well-built, secure payment gateway to complement an eCommerce platform and in turn, providing local payment gateway providers with a promotional boost.
With the Malta Employers’ Association, Tech.mt established collaboration on an online toolbox for business entrepreneurs to assist enterprise start-up and growth, simplifying administrative procedures for business and implementing the “Think Small First” principle in favour of small and medium-sized enterprises. In May, Tech.mt and the MEA have also signed a cooperative agreement allowing Tech.mt to contribute towards the MEAINDEX online portal for business entrepreneurs. This will ensure increased dissemination of information and awareness over meaindex.com, among the local and international business community.
A study is being explored amongst businesses to assess their perceptions towards the adoption of IoT and identify the obstacles present. For the purpose of this study, business operating in the following sectors – Manufacturing, Hospitality, Retail, Finance, Transportation are being targeted. The study aims to collect information about their perceptions towards the adoption of IoT and identify the obstacles present. More particularly, the survey investigates areas such as sectoral relevance, willingness to invest, barriers or challenges, and effectiveness on business operations. Based on the results of the survey, Tech.mt will embark on a national marketing campaign to promote IoT usage amongst local businesses.
The re-structuring at the Malta Cloud Forum, led-by Tech.mt, is currently ongoing to facilitate the uptake of cloud computing by micro organizations and SMEs and increase cloud awareness.
Furthermore, preliminary work for the design of a legislative framework for a national co-investment fund to support investment in start-ups in Malta, is currently ongoing.
Preparations for the 10th year anniversary of the eBusiness Awards are currently underway. Through the eBusiness Awards, Tech.mt provides a platform for the local business community to celebrate their digital-related achievements. The goal of this event is to encourage other businesses to follow suite and implement digital tools and learn from best-practice scenarios. This year marks the 10th year anniversary of the renowned eBusiness Awards and to commemorate this occasion, Tech.mt will be introducing a new award and revisiting the judging criteria of existing awards.
Supporting students and academia
An enhanced collaboration with the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) was established, by focusing on three main pillars: assistance to start-ups, promotion and apprenticeships. On the 18th and 19th of May, Tech.mt took part in the MED ClimAccelerator, run locally by MCAST. Tech.mt formed part of the judging panel which also included members from Business Angles Malta and the Ministry for Environment, Climate Change and Planning (MECP).
MED ClimAccelerator is a programme under EIT Climate-KIC to boost innovation in relation to climate change solutions by supporting and funding local start-ups. This programme supports the first three stages of start-up development and is not limited to early-stage start-ups or scale-ups only. The selected start-ups will receive up to €20K in funds, tailored training and expert coaching. As part of an EU-wide programme, participants will also have the chance to vastly expand their networks and be directly linked to global investors and cleantech industries.
Moreover, as part of the Entrepreneurship assignment at degree level at MCAST, student groups delivered their sales pitch on Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th May 2021. Representatives from Tech.mt formed part of the Board Members assessing and supporting these students wishing to take their project idea at a higher level. The event saw over 1,000 Degree students presenting their sales pitch as the last component of their assessment. This offered an opportunity for students to enhance their transversal skills, in particular: teamwork, leadership, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial skills.
Furthermore, a collaboration was established with the University of Malta Racing (UoMR), comprised of students from different faculties, who come together to design, build and race a formula style racing car in an international competition, Formula Student. This renowned student engineering competition is organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and sees teams from different universities across the world coming together to compete against each other. The students are judged not only on their driving capabilities and skills, but also on the car’s design, overall quality of build and their business proposal.Tech.mt continues to be committed in supporting the STEM field by assisting students in achieving their goals.
Tech.mt is committed to support the Malta’s youth’s entrepreneurial vision. This year Tech.mt sponsored the Digital Signature Award during the JAYE Awards. The Tech.mt Digital Innovation Signature Award was created to celebrate the achievements of young entrepreneurs who were best able to put their digital skills into practice to conceive an innovative business concept. The award perfectly fits Tech.mt’s aim to help young students in harnessing their entrepreneurial abilities relating to technology by giving them a platform where they can implement their ideas and be recognized for their achievements. The event was held on the 7th, 8th and 9th of May and saw many exciting and innovative ideas put forward by young entrepreneurs taking part in this year’s JAYE finals. Tech.mt’s judging panel selected SilentSave as the winners of the award. SilentSave are proposing a wearable device that can be used in emergency situations to contact emergency services while simultaneously silently recording an encounter. It has multiple real-life applications which could have huge market potential. Tech.mt is committed to further support SilentSave’s ambitions in aiding the vibrant start-up to launch the product onto the market.
Tech.mt will also be participating in the yearly publication by the ICT Faculty at the University of Malta. Tech.mt is campaigning on the importance of STEM education for innovation and how Tech.mt can help students and start-ups in pushing their ideas further.
An Entrepreneurship Guidance Document is currently being prepared by Tech.mt with the support of MCAST to assist students or aspiring entrepreneurs in realising their business ideas while being more creative and innovative. The detailed manual takes the user from point A i.e. the idea, to the final stages of setting up the business or launching the product/service on the market.
In collaboration with local stakeholders such as the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, Malta Enterprise, Malta Development Bank, MIMCOL, Malta Council of Science and Technology (MCST), NSO, Chamber of SMEs, MEA, Business Enhance and JAYE, Tech.mt is currently planning collaborative initiatives through channels such as focus groups, joint webinars, joint schemes and programmes.
To achieve its vision of supporting digitalisation across different sectors, Tech.mt teamed up with ArtzID and organised ‘DIGITAL – Shaping the future of art’ between the 18th and 19th of June 2021. ArtzID’s aim is to connect, showcase and support the visual arts community in Malta through a digital online network, and by organising collaborative events, workshops and more. The event included workshops, keynotes, mentoring sessions, and discussions revolving around topics such as digital marketing, selling art online, market trends, and how the arts community can benefit from new technologies such as AI and Blockchain. A pitching contest will follow in July with the winner taking home a €2,000 prize and one-to-one mentorship sessions with industry experts.
2020 enabled Tech.mt to establish contacts with eight Italian Universities – University of Ferrara, University of Camerino, University of Perugia, University of Verona, University of Milano, University of Piemonte Orientale, University of Genoa and University of Catania. The partnerships were consolidated during a digital signature ceremony organized by Tech.mt in April 2021. This initiative highlights the importance of mutual co-operation by creating employment networks for graduates, collaboration by way of joint studies, research, training activities and educational exchanges of mutual interest, between University of Malta and 8 Italian universities in various fields of related to technology. Tech.mt will be overseeing the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding, by bringing together and working with all stakeholders to ensure that this initiative leaves a lasting and positive impact to both Malta and Italy’s academic institutions and the local economy. Going forward, other jurisdictions will be targeted to create similar synergies.
The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) and Tech.mt are in discussions to establish a potential agreement with the view to explore potential investment and collaboration opportunities, jointly creating ways to promote, and approach and attract companies to Abu Dhabi and Malta. Through this agreement, ADIO and Tech.mt will host and promote joint events and support visits of government, industry and academia representatives from and to Abu Dhabi and Malta. Finally, this will facilitate introductions of potential investee companies and individuals from their territories wishing to expand to Abu Dhabi or Malta.
Tech.mt has also partnered with StartupBlink to help in mapping and managing the Maltese local start-up ecosystem on the StartupBlink platform. StartupBlink is an online platform renowned for mapping the start-up ecosystems in different countries across the world, working to uncover the momentum of start-up ecosystems globally and to support their growth. This will enhance exposure to Maltese start-ups globally, opening the doors to potential internationalisation and collaboration opportunities with other like-minded start-ups.
Raising awareness on STEM
A study to develop a digital tool for STEM Educators is currently underway. The study aims to collect information about teaching practices and needs in STEM education. The objective is to assess the current practices and needs of primary teachers regarding the way they deliver their STEM teaching. More particularly, the study will investigate areas such as the type of resources used by teachers and students to facilitate STEM teaching and learning, and the use of digital tools in the teaching process. Over the last few months Tech.mt has held a number of consultation sessions with stakeholders to gather their insight, followed by the creation and dissemination of a survey amongst educators, in order to identify what the proposed digital tool will be. This could potentially range from being a mobile or tablet app, to a resource website, augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), or a virtual reality (VR) tool to help STEM educators at delivering their content and lessons to their students.
Minimising the digital divide and fostering digital inclusion
Work is also ongoing on several projects aimed at minimising the digital divide, equipping the community with digital skills and much more. The following are some of the main projects that Tech.mt is currently working on:
Women4IT: Malta will be assisting around 100 young women between 18 and 29 years to develop digital competences and to take successful steps into digital job-related employment. Through this project Tech.mt will ensure that the gender gap and the digital divide continue to be minimised across the local population and to boost the numbers of girls and young women into the digital agenda. A call for potential participants will be issued shortly and this will lead to providing the training needed for the career path chosen by the applicants.
ICT for the Elderly: This initiative addresses what has become known as “online ageing” and aims at facilitating a pathway for up-skilling individuals between the ages of 55 and 74 in their digital competencies. A total of 5 ambassadors have been identified for training, which is currently ongoing. Subsequently, these ambassadors will be disseminating the training programme to other elderly in the community and thus, continue to address digital divide across the elderly cohorts. Recently, Hon. Minister Silvio Schembri visited one of the ongoing training sessions and praised this initiative which is supporting the elderly population in achieving the digital skills required in today’s society.
Get Smarter: Yet another initiative to continue to address the digital gap, the Get Smarter project is aimed at helping mobile users maximise the use of their smartphones. Online videos and training manuals, in both Maltese and English, are available online for the general public, targeting mostly the 55+ age groups.
Tech.mt Free Wi-Fi: There are currently more than 400 free Wi-Fi hotspots around Malta and Gozo and, in collaboration with its various partners, Tech.mt is offering at least 4 Wi-Fi connections in every town or city. This is to ensure that all citizens remain connected and integrated within the digital society.
Excelerate: Tech.mt is heavily investing in the concept of digitalisation and that is why it will be launching Excelerate in September 2021. Excelerate is a free training programme that will be delivered online via a fully-fledged learning management system, built exclusively for Tech.mt. The training will delve into topics such as: Digital Strategy; Cloud Migration; ERP; CRM; Security & Backup; Web Development & Design; and Groupware & Collaboration.
Prospective projects: An ongoing task at Tech.mt is conducting research on funding opportunities for projects that can be tapped into in line with Tech.mt’s mandate. Various project ideas have been explored for Tech.mt – led projects and we are also looking at embarking on partnerships in projects led by other entities.