Research and innovation key for strong recovery in a post-COVID-19 world

Malta believes that research and innovation should be an enabler for investments across several economic sectors. The potential and impact of R&I investments is best captured through the smart specialisation approach and Malta supports the use of structural funds for the purpose of directing R&I investments in economic sectors with a high-level growth potential. 

This was stated by the Minister for Research, Innovation and the Co-ordination of Post Covid-19 Strategy Owen Bonnici during an Informal Council of Ministers for Research which discussed the possible linkages between the recovery and resilience plans and Europe’s research area.

Minister Bonnici said that Malta acknowledges the strong potential that R&I can have in ensuring that the economic recovery is a sustainable, inclusive, and forward-looking. It is indeed with this view in mind that Malta established a dedicated ministry for R&I and the coordination of the post-Covid-19 strategy.

Minister Bonnici explained that the “missions” and partnerships of Horizon Europe can provide an important and direct contribution to the EU’s economic recovery by leveraging upon public and private investments on a wide portfolio of R&I activities which can generate quality and sustainable jobs.

“We consider these kind of R&I investments as complementary endeavours to the Member States’ national recovery and resilience plans,” he said.  

Minister Bonnici said Malta is considering areas such as health and wellbeing, the sustainable use of resources for climate change mitigation and adaptation, marine and maritime technologies, smart manufacturing, aviation and aerospace and future digital technologies as potential priority areas, conducive for impactful R&I investments. “Several of these areas are at the junction of the green and digital transition,” he explained.

“In fact, for Malta, possible cooperation could be envisaged between national R&I investments in digital infrastructures and joint programming initiatives addressing key digital emerging technologies such as AI and Internet of Things,” Minister Bonnici said.

Minister Bonnici explained that Malta believes in the need to leverage upon all possible opportunities for synergies between EU programmes and private sector investment, in order to appropriately help, and support innovative start-ups and SMEs, to further develop their business, and create jobs.

“In this regard, Malta considers that the European Innovation Council (EIC) established through Horizon Europe can play a key role in assisting this process, providing the necessary financial investments to bring research from the lab to the market,” he said.

“Specifically, Malta considers it important that further measures are designed to incentivize European industry to continue to embrace the development, deployment, and diffusion of enabling digital technologies. Technologies such as these will help the EU to move forward from the crisis and invest in new opportunities that give European businesses a competitive advantage over their competitors,” Minister Bonnici explained.