Public-private partnership Tech.mt, a foundation launched in March of this year to work towards promoting Malta as a tech centre for innovative technologies, will place a special focus on human resources in order to aid growth in the IT and Technology industries, Chairman Mark Bugeja said.
The entity, which was set up by the Government, together with the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, will “endeavour to help out with promoting the industry in order to attract human resources to Malta and, indeed, to individual companies,” Mr Bugeja asserted, stating that “without human resources we will struggle to get the sector off the ground at the desired pace.”
Tech.mt was announced in the last Budget and was setup at the beginning of this year. One of its principal aims is to promote “Malta as a suitable set-up for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), whilst also promoting the local technological industries to open business paths with foreign investors in this sector,” Mr Bugeja explained. He also went on to assert that the Government’s drive to innovation through disruptive technologies – which saw it forging “new legislation in various sectors of this new industry” – will now be funnelled “through this new marketing channel.”
To encourage human resources, the foundation plans to participate “in education and university fairs that will give us the opportunity to showcase the Maltese islands as one of the best overall living experiences and therefore attract the relocation of talent.”
The foundation, he added, will encourage more companies to set up shop on the Maltese islands, giving Malta a great opportunity to flourish, while also creating a number of job opportunities for locals. Moreover, on the local front, companies can go through Tech.mt to help them “achieve goals beyond our shores, giving them the opportunity to latch onto this marketing arm through local and foreign fairs and conferences,” thus also increasing their business profile, Mr Bugeja said.
Francois Grech, Deputy Chairman of the foundation added that “one of the greatest challenges faced by local tech companies is to expand beyond Malta,” he said. “Our aim is to position Malta as a reputable tech centre and to assist local tech companies to reach beyond our shores through a number of initiatives.”
Mr Grech also noted that to ensure that companies achieve these goals, Tech.mt will consolidate Malta as a “technology brand” and provide a springboard for local tech companies to establish a relationship with international partners.
“Talent is at the core of any tech company, and this will definitely stimulate the need for skilled resources locally. We need to position Malta as a vibrant location for tech talent, as we are competing with other European locations to attract the best people,” Mr Grech said. To this end, and among other initiatives, Tech.mt is working closely with academic institutions to offer local courses aimed at training local and foreign talent, with the ultimate objective of maintaining and increasing employment rates, he said.
In relation to this, the entity has also focused its energies on engaging the youth community. “One of our pillars is youth engagement and encouraging their participation in the transformation of our digital economy,” Dana Farrugia, CEO of Tech.mt, said. “Youths are a focal point; they are major stakeholders who are constantly using digital technology and they are fundamental to providing us with feedback. We believe that in order to encourage them to educate themselves in the field, we need to primarily listen and then act on the feedback provided.”
The CEO, reflecting much of what her colleagues stated, is a firm believer that Malta provides the perfect ecosystem for growth in the sector. “Our major focus is putting Malta on the map as the island of choice for technology. Our country has recently topped a report by the EU Commission, rating it first in nationwide connectivity of fast broadband. We also boast a highly-skilled workforce and we enjoy facilitated communication worldwide since almost our whole island is capable of communicating in English. By reducing communication barriers, Malta is a key player in attracting foreign direct investment or exporting technology skills abroad,” Ms Farrugia said. She also emphasised that the majority of companies that have opened in Malta, have remained in Malta and continue to choose Malta as their hub for technology and business growth. “For us at Tech.mt, there is no better certificate of trust than this.”
To achieve its stated aims, Tech.mt is also seeking funding from the European Union to help finance its initiatives and to “target various facets of the community, focusing efforts on reducing the digital divide and gender gap in the sector,” Ms Farrugia continued. “Statistically we also see that women are under-represented in the digital world. We need to identify why this is happening. Tech.mt is taking the approach of providing training and job opportunities by partnering with the private sector, so that women and young girls are truly allowed to decide about their future and take their destiny in their own hands.”
This will, indeed, allow everyone to benefit from the technological innovations, Ms Farrugia concluded. “Due to the fast evolution of our digital economy, we are seeing a trend whereby certain strata of society are not catching up as swiftly. We do not want anyone to remain on the outside looking in on technological evolution.”