Some of Malta’s leading innovation ecosystem stakeholders recently met at ‘Shaping the Future Together: Creating Malta’s Innovation Valley’ - an event co-hosted by Malta-based venture builder A8 and the EU-funded RInnoValleys action empowering regional innovation ecosystems.

Held on Monday 29th April 2024 in Birkirkara, the event brought together some of the country’s brightest minds working within the entrepreneurial sphere to catalyse the development of Malta’s innovation ecosystem and connect it with broader European initiatives.

CEO at A8, Antti Heikkilä remarked that within the company’s current investment and growth programme, the organisation has seen an “increase in the number of deep tech startups in Malta”.


“The Maltese ecosystem seems to be well equipped to host promising startups with high growth potential,” she added.

The event commenced with an address from Mika Tala, Chief Research Officer at A8. Boasting a background in innovation research, Mr Tala presented a series of findings about the entrepreneurial ecosystems of two regions in Finland. His presentation particularly emphasised collaboration as an enabler of innovation. This was followed by an address from Diana Miceli, European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT) Community Officer at the EIT Community RIS Hub in Malta. Her intervention discussed the goals of the EIT - i.e. supporting innovative SMEs in commercialising their innovations - whilst highlighting the entity’s potential in supporting Maltese entrepreneurs.

Next, Annija Tropa, Chief Project Manager at the Riga City Council, virtually addressed the event, discussing the projects and initiatives being implemented within the Latvian capital city to develop it as a testbed. Then, Trond Bugge (Director for UX & Innovation at Ericsson One) highlighted the importance of understanding the roots of innovation and fostering an environment within which it can flourish. Mr Bugge also delved into the dynamics of innovation, venture-building, and the transformative power of collaboration:

“It is not enough to have a good idea. It is more about the correct mindset and the team. We are watching with great interest what companies from moderate innovation regions, such as the ones in Malta, are developing in the deep tech domain.”


He has has managed innovation and venture-building activities for large corporations, including IKEA, CaixaBank, Arla, L’Oréal, Nordic Choice Hotels, AstraZeneca, Kinnarps, and Magotteaux. He has also worked with local governments in Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, and Sweden to capture insights and ideas concerning sustainability challenges. His message is clear - Maltese innovation stakeholders should jointly embrace new opportunities when it comes to promoting innovation.

‘Shaping the Future Together: Creating Malta’s Innovation Valley’ concluded with a dynamic panel discussion titled ‘Call to Action’ featuring key stakeholders from Malta’s burgeoning innovation community. Participants included Johan Zammit (Malta Innovation Forum), Andras Havasi (Knowledge Transfer Officer - University of Malta), Stanley Muller (AIVHY), Sarah Mifsud Attard (MCST), and Rachel Camilleri (MDIA).

Despite the varied opinions elicited from the panel discussion, all speakers recognised that a shared vision of innovation promotion in Malta has been lacking - particularly when one considers the fact that the country’s small size poses a significant advantage in turning it into an innovation test bed. Moreover, Malta Innovation Forum’s Johan Zammit remarked that the consistent use of innovation terminology throughout the event was an initial yet key step forward in shaping our ambitions and goals in promoting innovation.

The panellists collectively supported calls for further community building efforts within Malta’s innovation ecosystem, such as collaboration and interaction between academics and industry, and more participation from corporations and family businesses. More efforts are needed to enhance “buy-in” among local actors and openness in sharing ideas. The need for open innovation challenges was also mentioned.

This event was part of a larger series of events seeking to nurture collaboration between local innovation ecosystem stakeholders in a bid to create future action plans. The next RInnoValleys X A8 event in Malta is scheduled to take place in June 2024.


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