MCST at the forefront in enabling Malta’s COVID-19 R&D Fund
Desiree Dalli Avallone
August 12, 2020
The Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) was established in 1988 and was given the role of an advisory body to Government on Science and Technology policy. Thirty years down the line, under the helm of the Executive Chairmanship of Dr. Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, the Council’s remit has grown to raising the profile and standard of Science, Technology, Research and Innovation in Malta. Always reaching the highest of standards, the Council has managed to establish links between public and private sectors. MCST operates under the Secretariat for Financial Services and Digital Economy within the Ministry for Finance.
Through its Interactive Science Centre, Esplora, MCST has played a significant role in raising public awareness about science through science communication. Apart from Esplora and soon EsploraNatura, MCST is also responsible for a broad technical remit. It provides policy advice to government on local as well as EU developments, whilst it represents government in various EU fora related to R&I. It is also responsible for developing the national strategy on R&I, in collaboration with stakeholders. In turn, MCST is able to deploy initiatives in R&I through programmes for funding that it administers as a Managing Authority. In fact, MCST is known for a number of nationally funded R&I programmes as well as internationalisation programmes involving bilateral and multilateral research collaborations. MCST is also the National Contact Organisation for the EU Framework Programme, having a role in supporting the local community in its participation, but also presenting national priorities to help shape future EU programmes, as well as the National Contact Organisation for relations with the European Space Agency (ESA) and has built further relationships with international space organisations, to help equip the local research community with capacity building in the sector. Since MCST plays a pivotal and key role within the Maltese R&I landscape and ecosystem, it frequently supports other governmental entities in helping develop their research strategies and initiatives, also supporting them in specific technical research programmes.
COVID-19 R&D Fund
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MCST and Malta Enterprise (ME) came together to launch the COVID-19 Research and Development (R&D) Fund. As at August 2020, the number of COVID-19 cases has surpassed 18 million active cases globally with more than 692,872 deaths. MCST now administers the €5.3M Fund aimed at developing innovative and improved approaches to the challenges raised by COVID-19 and future pandemics. This fund has been boosted by a €100,000 donation by kENUP Foundation last Friday 31st July, 2020. Projects must have a clear COVID-19 link and encompass an inherent research uncertainty that is explored through one of the three parameters that define R&D: Fundamental Research, Industrial Research and Experimental Development.
Interested applicants must have an operating base in Malta and may follow one of two routes; State-Aid under the European Commission Temporary Framework: tailored to undertakings and/or where the project is deemed to involve economic activity; or Non-State aid: tailored to Public entities or research and knowledge dissemination organisations and where the project is deemed to have no economic activity. The COVID-19 R&D Fund has no financial capping, hence interested applicants may apply for as large a sum as necessary to fulfil their project needs. The aid intensity varies, depending on the route taken i.e. State-Aid or Non-State Aid. Non-State Aid beneficiaries will receive 100% aid intensity, while State-Aid applicants will receive 80% or 100% aid intensity, depending on the R&D parameter chosen.
This is an open call which will run till the 30th of November 2020. Eligible projects must have started not earlier than the 1st of February and not later than the 31st of December 2020. There is no minimum duration however the maximum duration of the project is 18 months. Interested applicants may find more details related to the rules for participation and Application Form here: https://mcst.gov.mt/ri-programmes/covid-19-rd-fund/. Any specific queries related to the aforementioned documents can be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.