The Malta Business Bureau (MBB) and Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) organized a business conference titled ‘Navigating EU Direct Funds – Unlocking Financial Opportunities for Business.‘ This was organised through the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) project, which aims to assist SMEs in their journey towards sustainability, digitalisation, and resilience.
The primary objective of the conference was to enhance accessibility to direct EU funding programmes, such as Erasmus+, LIFE, COSME-SMP, Horizon 2020, and EIT, among others, for the national business community. The benefits of capitalising from the EEN service were also highlighted, as it facilitates the connection between finance experts and local businesses seeking funding opportunities.
Opening the event, MBB President Alison Mizzi said, “One thing that we have learnt throughout these years is that while businesses have many ideas for projects that may be eligible for EU funding, they find it complicated to identify the correct funding stream where to propose their ideas for funding. As such, the MBB, under the auspices of the Enterprise Europe Network, is here to advise businesses on identifying the correct funding stream for their project ideas and connect them with the relevant contact points to pursue their project application.”
On his part, MCST Chairman Dr. Tonio Portughese commented that “by prioritising innovation, digitalisation, and sustainability, we can drive economic growth, create new job opportunities, and enhance the quality of life for our citizens”. Dr. Portughese reaffirmed MCST’s dedication to supporting R&I that drives the growth and prosperity of Malta’s scientific and technological landscape.
Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds Hon. Dr. Chris Bonett stressed that, despite the challenges the country has faced in recent times, Malta has adapted, innovated, and grown due to the government working hand in hand with the private sector. The Parliamentary Secretary closed by emphasizing the importance of financial support for digitization and sustainability, for businesses to adapt these factors in their operations.
A presentation on direct funding programmes and their potential value for local businesses followed, led by MBB Senior Projects Executive Michele Agius and MCST National Contact Point for Horizon Europe Martin Vieira.
The event included two panel discussions with international and local funding experts, together with businesses with experience in tapping direct EU funds. These explored how such funding can support investments in sustainability, digitalisation, and R&I. The first panel discussion on R&I opportunities featured insights from Mario Balzan, Founder of Ecostack Innovations, Oxana Mercieca, Eureka Eurostars National Project Coordinator at Malta Enterprise, Gonca Kara, EIT Climate KIC Senior Research Officer at MCAST, and Lili Kankaya, Senior Executive at MCST. Anthea Fabri, Director Framework Programme at MCST, facilitated the discussion. The second panel was moderated by MBB CEO Joe Tanti, focusing on the green and digital transformation and the role of EU funding. This included interventions from Joel Fernandes, Project & Policy Advisor at Eurochambres, Denise Fiorentino, CEO of Servizzi Ewropej Malta, and Morgan Parnis, CEO of Business Leaders Malta.
Addressing the conference, the President of the European Parliament Dr. Roberta Metsola encouraged Maltese businesses to embrace the change that the new realities are bringing. “They represent opportunity. A chance for renewal. For growth. Without change, we will stagnate: as an economy, as a country and as a Union. You who have invested all your energy and resources into creating something new and innovative, you who have sacrificed everything you have for your business, it is you that has every potential and all the stamina it takes to come out of this period stronger, perhaps more than ever before,” concluded President Metsola.
Businesses interested in finding out more about the EEN or other available funding schemes are encouraged to contact MBB’S EEN project coordinator, Michele Agius, at firstname.lastname@example.org.