At a launch event for the Innovation Leaders Training Programme, held this morning at the Exchange Buildings in Valletta, the Malta Business Bureau (MBB) announced its plans to boost SME take-up of three key EU funding streams.
The Innovation Leaders Training Programme will run until June 2015, with the aim to train 150 applicants from within the private sector, resulting in at least 15 project proposals presented for funding under the Horizon 2020, Erasmus+ and Creative Europe streams. Additionally, following the closure of the project, it is anticipated that the 15 individuals who submitted their project proposals, will train and mentor an additional 30 individuals by 2017.
As the take up of Direct EU funds by the local private sector is still largely unexploited, this is a notably significant proposed outcome particularly when the funding streams involved can provide funding opportunities in areas such as creativity, training, research and development.
Opening the event, MBB President Mario Spiteri commented that, “Experience has shown that the take-up of Direct EU funds from Maltese businesses is very low. There are many reasons behind this, with the most evident being a lack of knowledge and resources and therefore, it is a priority for the MBB to address this issue. The Innovation Leaders Programme is a key measure through which we will build and strengthen the capacity within enterprises to tap into Direct EU funding themselves.”
Addressing attendees, Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds Hon. Dr Ian Borg stated that “The public sector has considerable expertise in applying for EU funds through ministerial funding stream coordinators. However, they can only assist enterprises to apply for funds – being awarded these funds depends upon the quality of the initiative and the proposal. The MBB’s initiative provides the industry with a much needed and welcome bridge, through which industry’s capacity to develop relevant and strong initiatives can be boosted and therefore can be funnelled towards the appropriate public contact points.”
Innovation Leaders, consists of three, full days of masterclass training by funding experts selected by the European Projects Association (EPA) – the MBB’s Transnational Partner from Brussels on this project. This is then followed by two mentoring webinars, as well as applicants being required to carry out a training session with decision makers within their companies. The training will also result in the applicants developing projects, the best of which will be submitted for funding. The 15 most feasible projects across the board will be sent on a study visit to Brussels.
The event was also addressed by MBB CEO Mr Joe Tanti and EPA Secretary General Ms Katarina Sipic, who highlighted expected benefits from the programme for Maltese enterprises.
Participation is offered free of charge to applicants from within industry, with the project being funded through the European Social Fund.