Dana Farrugia

Dana Farrugia

CEO of Tech.mt

Innovation / Malta

“Cutting-edge embrace of disruptive technology and innovation”

If you want to get ahead in cryptocurrency and blockchain tech you need to be situated at the heart of digital finance: Malta. If you are seeking the ultimate DTLs and AI launchpad, Malta is definitely the technology hub of choice. Dana Farrugia, CEO of Tech.mt, tells us why.

Maltese economy is at the top of EU’s growth chart and has doubled in size since 2013. To what do you attribute this remarkable achievement?

The structural shift towards a fast growing, internationally-oriented services sector is the main factor behind Malta’s recent economic success. At a historic inflection point, the country’s economic growth momentum is expected to remain solid. Steady GDP growth and record-low unemployment have helped the island emerge as one of Europe’s best performers in recent years, and Malta has long traded on its growth pattern of economic diversification and foreign investment.

A highly stable political, economic try and strong financial services sector, topped up with a tech-savvy population, act as solid pillars for Malta to continue to gain strategic competitive advantage in the global economy. Malta has become a world-renowned hub for the application of emerging technologies and their development incorporated in this tiny nation strong ecosystem. For this reason, the government and the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry established Tech.MT to reach out to investors, operators as well as consumers to promote Malta as the place to set foot and establish their businesses and operations.

With a drive to enhance the potential of the tech industry in Malta, Tech.mt aims to position Malta as a quality, creative, digital country. Tech.mt’s mission revolves around the fundamental principles of enhancing Malta’s attractiveness for foreign direct investment, as well as facilitating international business development and innovation to the local industry. Assisting Technology companies to innovate and grow internationally lies at the heart of what we do.

For local companies with international ambitions, Tech.mt will be acting as the link to facilitate connections with international organisations. Our team of professionals will ensure superior client relationship management through personalised advisory services and will guide businesses to understand the first steps of internationalisation, whilst recommending the best existing market opportunities and reducing the challenges involved in moving and establishing local contacts.

Tech.mt’s mandate is to seek sectorial growth and assist the technology ecosystem in establishing itself as a leading contributor to our GDP. As such, Tech.mt shall be instrumental in taking the Maltese tech industry to the next level, as it will seek to make the world notice its huge potential.

What makes Malta an attractive place for investors?

Malta has consistently striven to be ahead of the curve where technology and innovation are concerned. As we’ve previously seen, Malta established itself as the main hub for the iGaming industry. As a result, the island’s digital ecosystem is healthy and flourishing. Companies from many different sectors have been attracted by Malta’s investment in digital technology. The country also offers a large and impressive pool of potential employees, with plenty of well-trained, highly experienced and multi-lingual candidates to choose from.

The process of setting up a business is too often a complicated and difficult one. Malta has done much to simplify and streamline this process. The Maltese government is famously pro-business and has put in place a number of strong incentives: various double taxation treaties, convenient company structures and other benefits which make setting up a business in Malta very painless, allowing entrepreneurs to focus on succeeding. ICOs, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology powering it all are here to stay. With its superior workforce, outstanding standard of living, a favourable legal framework overseen by a business-oriented government, and a track record in financial technology that’s second to none, it’s evident that Malta is the place to be. Malta has positioned itself as the technology hub of choice and its reputation as the ideal jurisdiction for Fintech is only likely to keep growing in the future.

Malta was the first jurisdiction in the world to develop a regulatory framework for DLTs. After firmly asserting itself as a leader in DTLs, due to its swift acceptance of emerging technologies and the agility to act and regulate without suffocating the market, Malta has recently launched the National AI strategy. With this strategy, Malta is set to gain a strategic commercial advantage in the global economy sphere, generating investment and positioning itself as a leader in the AI field. The vision is for Malta to become the “Ultimate AI Launchpad”, a place in which local and foreign companies, and entrepreneurs, can develop, prototype, test and scale AI, and ultimately showcase the value of their innovations across an entire nation primed for adoption.

Malta wants to position itself as a leading hub for global start up activity and commits do so by attracting international talent, entrepreneurs and investors to Malta. For this reason a start-up visa will be launched for aspiring entrepreneurs who intend to develop an innovative business in Malta. Moreover, we offer various incentives for workers with specialised skills that are in high demand both locally and globally, to move to Malta. Tech.mt is partnering with education institutions to position Malta as a vibrant location for tech talent and in turn attract human capital to our shores.

In what ways is Tech.mt promoting Malta and local businesses?

One of Tech.mt’s main aims is promote itself locally such that it can create a dialogue and understanding of the current posture of tech companies and start-ups in Malta and the type of assistance they may require for funding or other resources to take their innovations further and expand their potential on an international platform. For this reason, Tech.mt signed an MOU with the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry to facilitates the development of international partnerships by connecting businesses to expertise contacts. Initiatives like this one are part of Tech.mt’s ongoing efforts to assist our local technology sector to grow internationally. Through participation at international events, we are promoting the Maltese technology sector to be considered as a strategic partner to deliver technology solutions at an international level.

Malta and Dubai share affinities in a lot of domain, from Fintech, to finance, real estate, tourism. How do you evaluate the potential for economic cooperation and investment links?

Mutual cooperation between Malta and Dubai can potentially be explored through trade in services, and the provision of expertise, skills, and training in those areas where both countries require mutual support. Due to Malta’s impressive economic growth, our businesses are seeking new opportunities and avenues for expansion, beyond the Maltese shores. In the technology sphere Malta is open to share its experience in the regulatory developments related to the sector, whilst both countries may explore ways to work hand in hand on several implementation projects for the use of blockchain, AI and other technologies in several sectors. Companies in Dubai operating in Technology may benefit from the opportunity to promote new investment opportunities that will arise for businesses in Malta with the creation of the new technology regulator. Extending their international operations to the Maltese jurisdiction means that such companies can also access other European markets.

Malta’s message in the international fora has always been clear; we embrace new technology. We plan to continue making headlines around the world with our cutting-edge embrace of disruptive technology and innovation, as the first country to put in place a robust and holistic regulatory framework on blockchain, followed up with further work on artificial intelligence and the internet of things.