“10 years ago, we embarked on a journey to radically transform passenger mobility through the application of technology,” said Matthew Bezzina, CEO and co-founder of eCabs – a cab company that spearheaded rapid technological advancements within the local mobility sector.
Mr Bezzina made his initial remarks on social media, following a meeting with newly elected Nationalist Party leader, Bernard Grech, on how to collectively empower start-ups and tech ventures.
Having first-hand experience of starting from humble beginnings, and using technology to power growth, Mr Bezzina said:
“We started small, but with big aspirations. We succeeded to make the leap from start-up to enterprise, and now are making our first steps to take our dream into international waters.”
He said the growth-path wasn’t plain-sailing and many times turned out to be an uphill struggle, “wherein the system that should help you grow in the first place actually ends up placing barrier after barrier along the way.”
“It’ still baffling that in a country which boasts it wants to be a tech destination we are still missing some key ingredients to make this a reality.”
It was in this spirit that he discussed developing local talent with the Opposition Leader, saying that belief in local players should not “stop at merely applauding start-ups, but should translate into material action most notably through the creation of an ecosystem that encourages the flow of venture capital and investment support to move their idea from concept to market”.
Last week, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri spoke in this vein where he said that the state is committed to supporting Malta’s start-up community. He referred to the creation of a venture capital fund announced in the 2021 Budget, however, details surrounding the fund remain vague.
Asked whether the mention of a venture capital fund in the last Budget goes far enough, Mr Bezzina said it is imperative that such a fund creates an opportunity for investors to pool their money in industries other than construction and tourism. He decried Malta overreliance on construction in particular.
He added that it is also imperative that the implementation of a venture capital fund for start-ups gets distributed in a fair way to technology and software companies.
Mr Bezzina stressed that, equally important, is a rehaul of Malta’s education system from primary school upwards, which prepares students for the highly technical jobs the Government is seeking to make available on the island through attracting tech-companies – be they big or small.
One issue which specialised employers have continued to raise the alarm on is the lack of skilled workers in the local workforce.
“We need tech-savvy people, we are not geared to mee the demand for workers that the new industries will require from Malta’s economy and workforce.”
(Left) Matthew Bezzina - eCabs CEO and co-Founder / Bernard Grech - Leader of the Opposition