The Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) is the governmental body responsible for Research and Innovation (R&I), space, science and technology. MCST was established by central government in 1988 with the mandate of advising government on science and technology policy. Today its remit has developed and expanded to include responsibilities associated with R&I policy and strategy, science communication, as well as the management of various R&I programmes. It presently falls under the remit of the Parliamentary Secretariat for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation within the Office of the Prime Minister.
MCST 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. Furthermore, responsibilities extend to the management and administration of various R&I Programmes funded by Central Government, primarily FUSION: The R&I Programme.
It is an active member of a number of internationalisation initiatives, most notably PRIMA (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area) as well as other transnational joint actions and ERA-NETs.
Being the National Contact Organisation for relations with the European Space Agency (ESA), MCST has worked closely with ESA to create capacity-building opportunities within the local sector. These include the National Space Fund composed of educational and research funding streams. Through its relationship with Eurisy, as well as bilateral agreements with foreign space agencies, MCST continues to build on the internationalisation of local space research.
As the National Contact Point Organisation for the EU Framework Programme, Horizon 2020, MCST is responsible for creating awareness and providing hands-on support to local researchers and entities to actively participate in the Programme. Malta’s priorities are also represented at EU level through the Programme Committee Members established for each area of Horizon 2020. MCST also manages and provides support for Malta’s participation in COST – an intergovernmental organisation for European Cooperation in Science and Technology, which provides funding for the creation of research networks.
Within its science communication remit, MCST is responsible for the operations of the national interactive science centre, Esplora. Suited to visitors of all ages, it offers a highly enjoyable experience in a safe and friendly environment. Esplora features over 200 indoor and outdoor interactive science exhibits, hands-on workshops and engaging science shows.
The aim of Esplora is to make visitors aware that science is all around them and that they already use scientific reasoning and skills within their daily activities, including making science-based choices continuously. Esplora adopts an inquiry-based learning approach, whereby science investigations are fun, relevant, interactive and engaging.
Esplora aspires to cultivate a culture of scientific curiosity and creativity by igniting a passion for questioning, investigation and discovery by encouraging staff and visitors to Explore, Think and Imagine.
The iconic colour space 4K theatre Planetarium, projects full-dome films and presenter-led live shows about the Earth and the Moon, the planets and the whole solar system, adventures in space, and also life here on Earth.
Esplora Interactive Science Centre was part-financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund.