Start-ups can now benefit from up to €400,000 working capital through the amended Start-Up Finance Scheme

Last Updated on Thursday, 1 October, 2020 at 8:26 am by Andre Camilleri

An American start-up company, Trust Stamp, established its operations in Malta and already employs 26 employees, a number which is set to grow.

With offices in the USA, UK, Poland, and the Philippines, Trust Stamp, an American start-up company, has recently established its presence in Malta which will serve as a base for research and development, reaching out to African counterparts and markets.

When visiting its new offices, Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses Silvio Schembri remarked upom the government’s commitment in pursuing its efforts to attract foreign direct investment to its shores, particularly start-ups. ‘As a government we’re providing the necessary impetus for start-ups to take that leap forward and implement their projects and ideas. Malta is already attracting high quality start-ups to its shores and we intend to maintain this momentum by preserving its competitive-edge and continue providing an optimum ecosystem for start-ups to operate and flourish,” said Minister Schembri. Trust Stamp’s mission is to create and deploy artificial intelligence solutions to empower financial and societal inclusion. This ranges from providing account access and fraud detection for an American bank with over 60 million customers, to working with Mastercard, to creating identites for 100 million undocumented people throughout Africa to allow access to vaccinations, medical care, and aid.

During this visit, Minister Schembri announced that the Start-Up Finance Scheme has been recently amended to encourage start-up investors to invest and provide more flexible financing options, including operational costs.

Minister Silvio Schembri explained that now the amended Start-up Finance will provide up to €200,000 as a repayable advance on working capital to eligible start-ups’ undertakings, which may increase up to €400,000 if the start-up is an innovative enterprise.

The Startup Finance scheme was already in place before COVID-19. During 2020, Malta Enterprise approved start-up financing to seven beneficiaries. Total assistance granted to these beneficiaries is in the region of €3 million. Projects emanated from different areas which are expected to drive Malta’s economic growth further, including AI, fintech, biometrics and digital games.

Minister Schembri added that the enhancement of the scheme complements the government’s industrial infrastructure investment programme, which will significantly change the landscape of our industrial zones. ‘This €450 million investment, over a period of seven years also includes a €14 million investment in the upgrading of the Kordin Business Incubation Centre which will bolster innovation and the digital economy by providing adequate operational space for start-ups,’ said Schembri.

Kurt Farrugia, Malta Enterprise Chief Executive Officer, explained that a survey carried out by the corporation among local start-ups showed that the latter are interested in allocating funds towards capital and operation expenditure to identify new markets and for R&D purposes. However, the most pressing challenges encountered by start-up beneficiaries were loss of turnover, cancellation of contracts and cash flow management. Moreover, the survey also showed how technology-based start-ups proved to be more resilient during the pandemic. Most importantly, the outcome of the survey demonstrated that the assistance provided through the wage supplement and other mitigation measures enabled them to retain the majority of their staff.

‘It is interesting to note that the interviewed companies expressed their interest to raise up to €200,000 and that they were seeking ways to raise funds throughout this year. Thus, through the amendment in the scheme, the enterprise will provide an essential head start to implement their projects,’ said Farrugia while adding that the scheme is available till 31st December 2022.

‘The incentives and support Malta offered to allow us to create a research and development centre that will accelerate our growth were very important and the new measure will undoubtedly enable many more companies to see similar growth by engaging with the Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses and Malta Enterprise. We intend to be a committed corporate citizen to Malta and engage in every way we can’, said Gareth Genner, CEO of Trust Stamp.

Trust Stamp offers intensive training to students in artificial intelligence as well as employment opportunities as part of its commitment to develop highly educated people in technology for the benefit of the broader Maltese economy. ‘Our Malta research and development team will be working on new techniques to allow biometric identification of infants together with the effective transmission predicton of COVID and other viral risks’, said Genner.

Genner remarked that last week the World Bank selected its technology as a final-6 finalist from over 150 companies in 50 countries being considered for facilitating a global identity program known as ‘Project One Billion’, a project that could create €3 trillion in new global  economic value. ‘A lot is going on in Malta which will eventually leave a positive global impact’, said Genner.

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