R&I Strategy Post-2020

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Malta`s National Research and Innovation Strategic Plan 2023-2027

As a key driver of economic growth in the 21st century, research and innovation are at the heart of Malta’s plan to be fit for the future. The nation itself has a relatively short history of R&I policy drafting and execution but, following a review by the European Commission that concluded in 2019, this Administration now looks forward to building on the review to augment Malta’s R&I ecosystem. To that end, the National R&I Strategic Plan 2023 – 2027 seeks to lay the foundation for a revitalised and well-governed R&I network built on both short-term priorities and long-term vision. With the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic and rising geo-political tensions, the principle of pro-active flexibility was also embedded in the Plan to ensure a reactive and dynamic approach to unforeseen events. The Strategic Plan itself was built on five overarching goals:

  • Goal 1: Strengthening R&I Governance and Priority-Setting

This priority seeks to consolidate Malta’s relatively fragmented R&I ecosystem under a rationalised and efficient governance model with both political ownership and technical expertise being prioritised.

  • Goal 2: Local Ecosystem Development

This aspect of the Strategic Plan aims to augment the ecosystem, enhancing the presence of the private sector and incentivising strategic internationalisation.

  • Goal 3: Enhanced Directionality through Missions and Smart Specialisation

Through this pillar, the Plan aims to embed a sense of problem-solving directionality into the Maltese R&I framework, built on existing national priorities and frameworks.

  • Goal 4: Mainstreaming R&I in Public Policy

As part of a broader push by Government, this goal seeks to further bridge together R&I actors with Public Administration by enhancing the role of scientific and technical knowledge in policy drafting.

  • Goal 5: Strengthening R&I Implementation Structures

This final pillar outlines the plan to upscale the entities responsible for both the execution of this Strategic Plan and of the strengthening of Malta’s R&I ecosystem. On the 22nd of December 2022, the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) launched the standing draft of the National R&I Strategic Plan 2023 – 2027 for Public Consultation. Several key stakeholders from Malta’s R&I ecosystem were present with a technical presentation by MCST’s directors disseminating the vision and steps forward for this Plan. This draft of the document is available online for review and all interested parties are invited to contribute their suggestions by forwarding them in an email to strategy.mcst@gov.mt. The Public Consultation period is set to close on the 31st of January 2023 which will be followed by a review of the draft considering the provided comments. The final draft will then be presented for political endorsement in early 2023 which will then be followed by its conclusive official launch.

Malta`s National Research and innovation Strategic Plan 2023-2027

Malta’s Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategy (RIS3) 2021-2027

Smart specialisation is a key principle underpinning the European Commission Cohesion Policy for the period 2021-2027 in the Research, Technology, Development and Innovation priority. Similarly to the 2014-2020 programming period, the existence of a Smart Specialisation Strategy is an enabling condition for EU Member States to access structural funding under the European Regional Development Fund in this field.

Smart specialisation is a place-based policy approach that foresees channelling of public and private investments in carefully selected priority areas, through an ‘entrepreneurial discovery process’ (EDP).

The EDP promotes a bottom-up approach that allows policymakers to learn from the stakeholders of the quadruple helix (government, academia, industry and civil society). It concerns the prioritisation of investment based on an inclusive stakeholder engagement and attention to national and international market dynamics and value chains.

The Malta’s Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategy (RIS3) 2021-2027 was published for public consultation, as part of the stakeholder engagement process, between 28th October and 18th November 2020. This exercise contributed to revealing the most promising areas for future national development and demonstrated the country does best in terms of R&D and innovation. Specifically, this process identified the following six priority areas for the period 2021 to 2027:

  • Health and Well-being, with a focus on cancer, cellular therapy, drug development, digital tools to support healthcare, focusing on e-health and bioinformatics and biomedical engineering.
  • Sustainable Use of Resources for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, with a focus on net-zero carbon buildings, renewable energy generation and energy storage solutions, resource efficiency in industry and turning waste into a resource.
  • Smart Manufacturing, with a focus on sustainable manufacturing and flexible automation.
  • Marine & Maritime Technology, with a focus on the valorisation of marine resources and maritime technology.
  • Aviation and Aerospace, with a focus on avionics, composite materials and development of new technologies for maintenance of new products.
  • Future Digital Technologies (this is both a vertical priority and a horizontal enabler for the former five areas), with a focus on big data and data analytics, open data, smart space applications, human-centric applications, digitizing industries and sustainable use of resources or climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The RIS3 2021-2027 builds on achievements and lessons learnt in the previous RIS3 2014-2020. The purpose of the renewed Strategy is not to start the process from scratch, but to further reinforce those components that are not yet sufficiently developed, and to use this opportunity to recalibrate Malta’s priorities in line with economic developments as well as national challenges.

This article was last updated on: January 4, 2023