22 February 2006

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Business Today

Gatt talks of Malta as technology capital city of the Med

IT Minister Austin Gatt outlined this week his vision in making Malta the technology capital island city of the Mediterranean Sea.
“Research and innovation in Malta will be undergoing an enormous boost in the coming weeks as we reap in an unprecedented manner on our unambiguous strengths, most glaringly in the ICTs sector,” Gatt said, when he was opening the Innovating Regions in Europe second methodological workshop.
Minister Gatt said the size of Malta and that of our industry and SMEs tend to give a warped result when compared with international levels.
“However our ICT record – which is central to an environment of innovation – is no longer merely a measure of success or pride but the completion of the foundation of a future at an entirely different level.”
“Six years ago I spelled out our ambition to make MALTA and ICT Centre of Regional Excellence” said Austin Gatt.
“We have spent the last six years building the building blocks; the foundations for the ICT edifice that will be unveiled this year.”
Minister Austin Gatt said that Malta has earned a reputation as a reliable and credible partner of the world industry leaders.
He added that Malta has established our local ICT industry as a sustainable supplier of innovative and original products to the regional market.
“We have also pumped a stream of educational channels that produced the necessary critical mass of competence that we need, and now it is the time for Malta to truly benefit from the fruits of that work.”
In his speech Minister Gatt referred to the need to continue in with the work to disseminate the benefits of foreign investment in our assets down to the already existing activities. To do that, based on the wealth of knowledge generated from the new activities we’ll see materialising this year we must work with existing enterprises to see them grow in tomorrow’s knowledge economy.
The Minister stressed the need for consensus towards innovation, as consensus building is required to guarantee an effective implementation of our strategy. The Lisbon Strategy has identified Research and Innovation as one of the weakest links leading to the lower productivity generated by the EU member states in general. Both the United States and Japan have a generally higher rate of expenditure on research and innovation. On the basis of 16 indicators, the US scores 0.14 and Japan scores 0.18 compared with 0.04 of the EU15. Europe is especially lagging in patents, population with tertiary education and ICT expenditure.
He stressed the concept of innovation should not be restricted solely to technology, but should be embedded in policies related to marketing & competition, tourism product, education and culture, heritage, employment, enterprise, environment, financial services and risk capital, information and communication technologies, intellectual property rights, taxation, trade, consumer and transport among others.

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