18 DECEMBER 2002
The Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) yesterday launched Maltas own Innovation Relay Centre (IRC) in partnership with the Malta External Trade Corporation, the Malta Development Corporation, the Institute for the Promotion of Small Enterprise and the Federation of Industry.
The IRC was set up through EU financial assistance, as part of the European IRC network.
The IRC is being set up to fuel innovation and technology transfer in Malta with the goal of encouraging and supporting SMEs, large companies, research institutes, universities, technology centres and innovation agencies.
MCST Chairman Peter Diacono said that the IRC was part of the MCSTs overall objective and efforts to create a culture of research and innovation in Malta.
Parliamentary Secretary for Youth and Sport, Jesmond Mugliett said that the MCST had identified the setting up of an IRC as one of its priority tasks to give support to the local SME community, "Competitiveness in industry is becoming increasingly dependent on innovation as we work towards obtaining a knowledge-based society.
"To be able to reach this objective, we teamed up with the main key players on the island, namely the FOI, IPSE, MDC and METCO in order to create a common front and to attain the right synergies that such project requires."
Mr Mugliett added that funding is coming partly from the European Commission under the Fifth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP5) and partly through public funds. The organisations forming part of the Consortium running the project will also be contributing.
"In a bid to shorten the learning curve, the European Commission has encouraged MCST to twin with a successful IRC in Europe for the first two years of the contract. Following an evaluation exercise among all the EU-funded IRCs, the German IRC of North-Rhine Westphalia, which ranked highest in overall performance, was chosen by MCST to act as the mentor to IRC-Malta."
The IRC-Malta will be starting its operations from the METCO offices in San Gwann, in a bid to benefit from the logistical support on-site at the agency.
Over the past five years, the pan-European IRC network assisted over 5,000 technology transfer negotiations, helping 65,000 client companies to meet their technology needs and to exploit their research results.
Today, 68 regional IRCs span 30 countries within the EU 15, the newly associated countries, including Bulgaria and Romania, Iceland, Israel, Norway and Switzerland.