Enhancing competitiveness through research, development and innovation

Article written by Duncan – Media and Information Executive, MEUSAC
Published on The Malta Business Weekly – 19.04.18

A new Business Enhance RD&I Grant Scheme is available for companies to conduct research and development projects, feasibility studies, innovative processes and invest in research infrastructures. The scheme supports a number of priority areas identified in the Smart Specialisation Strategy primarily in manufacturing, health, maritime, aviation, tourism, and ICT.

Applied research, development and innovation (R&D&I) plays a vital role in enhancing European competitiveness and innovation capacity. This is a critical element for enterprises to remain competitive and take advantage of their growth potential and become more innovative through the development of innovative products and solutions.

One of the key aims of the EU during the last couple of decades has been to encourage increasing levels of research investment, in order to provide a stimulus to the EU’s competitiveness. The EU has set the ambitious target of having 3% of the EU’s GDP invested in R&D by 2020. To date, according to Eurostat, in 2016, EU Member States spent a total of some €300 billion on research and development (R&D).In the case of Malta, NSO statistics on R&D spending show that in 2015, the percentage of R&D spending stood at 0.77% of GDP.

According to an in-depth report on Malta’s Cohesion Policy 2014-2020, entitled ‘Fostering a competitive and sustainable economy to meet our challenges’, published in 2015, Malta’s innovation performance remains below the EU average. Malta’s R&D system remains in its early development stage thus requiring investment both in the private and public sector, which implies that Malta still lags behind when it comes to reaching the Europe 2020 targets in the R&D sector.

This is important because developments within this area may also lead to growth in other sectors, due to its cross-cutting nature. In addition, it is vital that efforts are enhanced to increase human resource capacity in R&D to attract researchers. Keeping this in mind, Malta can play more of an important role in the EU’s vision on RTDI till 2020 and beyond. Thus, taking stock of the current state of play with respect to R&D and innovation activity, the need to invest in RTDI remains a priority for the period 2014-2020.

About the scheme
The Business Enhance RD&I Grant Scheme, which is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), supports enterprises through the provision of a non-repayable grant for research, development and innovation actions within the Smart Specialisation areas outlined in the National Research and Innovation Strategy 2020. The scheme addresses, manufacturing, aviation and aerospace, health, ICT, tourism product development and maritime services.

Eligible enterprises may receive support  in the form of non-repayable grants under four specific measures: Feasibility Studies, which seeks to support eligible enterprises to conduct a Feasibility Study to assess the potential of undertaking a specific R&D project; Research and Development Projects, aimed at supporting eligible enterprises that are planning to undertake industrial research and experimental development projects to develop new products, services or solutions; Investment in Research Infrastructures, which seeks to support enterprises to set up facilities with the aim of providing research infrastructures that perform an economic activity, to support the development and exchange of knowledge, expertise and the creation of technology transfer possibilities; and Process Innovation. As its name implies, grants under this measure are aimed at supporting undertakings to innovate through the development and implementation of either a new or significantly improved production or delivery method.

The EU co-funding rate for these four different measures varies between 15% and 70% of total eleigible costs, depending on the measure chosen and the size of the company that is applying for the funds, micro, medium or large. The smaller the enterprise, the greater the aid intensity. The remaining amount will have to be financed by the beneficiary from other non-EU financial sources.

Should you wish to receive information in the EU funding application process, one can set up an appointment with the EU funding team at MEUSAC on funding.meusac@gov.mt or by calling on 2200 3300. It is of pertinent importance for potential applicants to be aware of the fact that in order to be considered for the funds, applicants must satisfy the programme’s priorities.

The first cut-off date for submissions of applications is June 28, 2018, however it is not being excluded that further cut-off dates will follow.



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