A Mediter­ranean hub for in­no­va­tion

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS - Justyne Caru­ana

In the lat­est re­port from the Euro­pean Cen­tre for Pol­icy Re­form and En­trepreneur­ship (ECEPR), Malta is con­sid­ered as the south­ern Euro­pean hot­bed for ‘brain busi­nesses’ – com­pa­nies that com­pete through their brain power and ex­per­tise. The new study, The Ge­og­ra­phy of Europe’s Brain Busi­ness Jobs, shows that 5.5 per cent of the work­ing age pop­u­la­tion of Malta is em­ployed in highly knowl­edge-in­ten­sive com­pa­nies. This is higher than the Euro­pean av­er­age of 5 per cent

Proud of our rank­ings

The re­port is aimed at busi­nesses and in­vestors mak­ing a strate­gic choice about where to lo­cate and in­vest. The open­ing last week of Noovle Google new of­fices, a new and innovative in­vest­ment in Gozo, is proof of such in­ter­na­tional in­ter­est.

We should all be proud of state­ments by such bod­ies as the ECEPR. This is what Labour’s long-term vi­sion, sense of in­no­va­tion and com­mit­ment to change is all about. The abil­ity to keep abreast of cur­rent events and de­vel­op­ments gives us the cut­ting edge when com­pet­ing with other coun­tries, re­gard­less of our size. The coun­try is fast mak­ing a name for it­self in be­com­ing a hub for blockchain, bit­coin and the lat­est ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence sec­tor. This is some­thing we should all be proud of and in no way in­fe­rior to any other na­tion, and cer­tainly de­sist­ing from the con­certed strat­egy by some to be­lit­tle our demo­cratic cre­den­tials at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity overseas.

Quite rightly, Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat has ex­pressed op­ti­mism that Malta will con­tinue to be el­i­gi­ble for EU Cohesion Funds, de­spite its eco­nomic progress. Speak­ing in Bratislava at a Friends of Cohesion con­fer­ence this week, he said that progress needed to be sus­tained, rather than have sup­port with­drawn, and he was con­fi­dent that this view was gain­ing sup­port in the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. It is prefer­able for any mem­ber state to progress, with ad­e­quate EU funds, and there should be an ac­cept­able level of EU funds to help sus­tain the progress that is be­ing made.

A prosperous coun­try

Another in­ter­na­tional re­port this week states that Malta is among the world’s rich­est, health­i­est and most prosperous na­tions. A long-run­ning in­ter­na­tional sur­vey by the Le­ga­tum In­sti­tute’s An­nual Pros­per­ity In­dex con­sid­ers more than 100 vari­ables to de­ter­mine the most prosperous coun­tries among the 149 un­der re­view.

Malta is placed 19th, up from 22nd last year. Le­ga­tum, which has been car­ry­ing out the sur­vey for 12 years, looked at per capita gross do­mes­tic prod­uct and the num­ber of peo­ple in full-time work, among other cri­te­ria. It also in­cludes eco­nomic qual­ity, busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment, gov­er­nance, per­sonal free­dom, so­cial cap­i­tal, safety and se­cu­rity, ed­u­ca­tion, health and nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

The gov­ern­ment will not rest on such pos­i­tive clas­si­fi­ca­tions and will not leave any stone un­turned in en­sur­ing that the coun­try’s pros­per­ity reaches out to in­clude all our fam­i­lies and so­cial groups. It is, how­ever, en­cour­ag­ing to note that the op­ti­mistic out­look and the feel-good fac­tor all around is also recog­nised at Euro­pean and in­ter­na­tional lev­els.

Fam­ily busi­nesses

Fam­ily-run busi­nesses are the pulse of our econ­omy and not least in Gozo. It is es­ti­mated that these busi­nesses di­rectly em­ploy about 40,000 peo­ple across both is­lands. Through new and innovative leg­is­la­tion, the Gov­ern­ment aims to fa­cil­i­tate the trans­fer of busi­nesses be­tween gen­er­a­tions to en­sure con­ti­nu­ity in

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