During a press conference held at the University of Malta theatre on 21st January 2022 the Minister for Equality, Research and Innovation Dr Owen Bonnici launched a one-month consultation period on the 2022 Malta National Space Strategy.

KPMG Malta’s dedicated team, led by Partner Juanita Brockdorff and assisted by Associate Directors Stephan Piazza and Steve Stivala, is supportive of such initiative, because the adoption of a national space strategy at this point in time enables the country to joining a number of jurisdictions which have successfully invested resources into space-related projects, not necessarily rocket-launching ones, with a view to broadening and diversifying their economies. 

During the Press Conference, Minister Bonnici acknowledged the relevance and importance of the space sector in our day-to-day lives, referring to GPS services and agricultural monitoring, both of which run on space technology. Dr Bonnici confirmed the government’s intention to support the development of space-related capabilities and highlighted the government’s commitment to work with businesses and researchers to help develop a space sector. Minister Bonnici added that the Malta National Space Strategy has been designed to attract foreign direct investment, harness space innovation, support the development of a highly-skilled and adaptable workforce, build international linkages and leverage emerging technologies. 

The Malta Space Task Force Chairman, Omar Cutajar, explained that the Strategy does not seek to enable launching rockets into space, but considers manners in which the government can open the economy further, based on the success in areas where Malta already had acquired a solid foundation. Mr Cutajar said that the Strategy would be exploring the possibility of collaboration between industry and the research community, as well as the public sector in space activities.

Mr Cutajar further stated that “this strategy is very much grounded in reality and much of it involves assessment exercises to determine the viability of investing in the sector”. Mr Cutajar referred to setting up a framework to provide established services, such as legal or financial work, for space companies, and exploring the possibility of opening a hub to entice such enterprises to operate from Malta. The 2022 Malta National Space Strategy will be reviewed and updated during its implementation between 2021 and 2027 to ensure that Malta’s space sector evolves alongside the global space market, enabling Malta to seize the opportunities and benefits of space for our economy, our citizens and our environment. 

Content of the National Space Strategy 2022

The Space Strategy updates and substitutes the National Space Policy, published by the Malta Council for Science and Technology in 2017. The National Space Strategy 2022 represents Government’s commitment towards the creation of a new pillar of our economy. The Government’s intention is to replicate the success achieved in the area of shipping and aviation while embracing best practices adopted abroad. The National Space Strategy 2022 takes stock of various initiatives undertaken in Malta to date within this sector while contextualising the space economy through a distinct reference to upstream and downstream activities and the opportunities for Malta’s economy in this respect.

The National Space Strategy 2022 highlights different funding projects available both at local and European level by describing activities, their value, target beneficiaries and eligible activities; it also analyses current associations, partnerships and collaborations and the reasons why Malta should continue to invest in such linkages.

The National Space Strategy 2022 is driven by a set of thematic goals, covering the relevant themes which are deemed to be critical for the successful achievement of the space strategy vision: achieving sustainable economic growth through space activities; supporting the research community; developing human capital; enhancing societal well-being; and improving the regulatory and legislative framework. The thirteen goals outlined within the strategy each have one or more linked KPIs to measure implementation success.

Underpinning the Strategy are five Pillars, which are enabled by concrete key strategic actions designed to realise Malta’s space vision by 2027. The Five pillars are:

i) FDI and Space Business Attraction,

ii) Space Innovation,

iii) Development and Attraction of Skilled Human Capital,

iv) International Regulatory Compliance and

v) Emerging Technologies.

In terms of implementation, the Strategy identifies actions, responsible owners, rollout sequencing, funding sources, and KPIs to measure and monitor implementation progress, to achieve Malta’s vision by 2027. Heightened coordination across Government will be key to roll out the Strategy and to raise awareness of the opportunities presented by space.

An entire section delves into regulatory aspects governing space law. The National Space Strategy 2022 analyses international treaties adopted abroad and the most recent soft law forming the so- called Corpus Iuris Spatialis; it makes tangible proposals in terms of their ratification and implementation and the adoption of instruments meant to make Malta a pioneer in the industry. A clear example is the creation of a register of interests over space assets based on the space protocol to the Cape Town convention as promoted by Unidroit. In addition, the National Space Strategy 2022 proposes the adoption of a set of laws and subsidiary legislation meant to regulate the sector through the creation of a competent authority, issuance of licenses and registration of space objects and adoption of sustainable measures meant to protect the interests of our environment. 

The full text of the National Space Strategy 2022 can be found here.

In order to remain relevant and attractive as an open economy Malta has to constantly reinvent itself to attract investment in emerging areas. In this sense, the commercialisation of space offers a unique opportunity which a national space strategy ought to take cognisance of. The 2022 National Space Strategy should enable Malta to find its niche in an industry encompassing a whole gamut of opportunities: from research labs, companies exploring and exploiting space resources in a sustainable manner, to the management of space debris.

- Anthony Pace, Partner
Head of Tax Services
Email: anthonypace@kpmg.com.mt

Economic diversification is key in building resilience to systemic shocks. We have already witnessed how a pandemic can decimate economies which are over-reliant on a particular sector or industry. Supporting and encouraging growth in high value-adding industries, such as the space industry, is highly commendable. A growing space industry in Malta has the potential not only to create more rewarding jobs for the future, but also lead to enhanced societal welfare through the diverse spectrum of space data applications.

- Steve Stivala, Director
Infrastructure, Public Policy and Strategy
Email: stevestivala@kpmg.com.mt

Steve Stivala

Aviation in Malta at the top of the agenda of the Maltese economy.