TAKEOFF Seed Fund Awards to provide support to six new ventures through an allocation of €100,000

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‘44 applications were received for the Take-Off Seed Fund, the largest number of applications ever received since its inception. It is highly evident that the need and demand for investment in such initiatives is needed’ – Minister Schembri

Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses Silvio Schembri granted a total of €100,000 to six teams of entrepreneurs and researchers as part of the 7th edition of the TAKE OFF Seed Fund Awards. 

It was earlier this year when the TAKEOFF Seed Fund Awards was launched, aimed at researchers and entrepreneurs to put forward their innovative ideas and develop them further through the financial assistance provided by this fund.

For this fund, a total budget of €100,000 is being allocated and, through a competitive call, applicants can benefit from a maximum of €25,000 to develop their ideas further. 

Minister Silvio Schembri said that, as a small nation state, Malta has always punched well above its weight in actively advocating the significance and research and the importance of bolstering critical and creative thinking in our mindset.

“This year, a staggering 44 applications were received for the Take-Off Seed Fund, the largest number of applications ever received since its inception. It is highly evident that the need and demand for investment in such initiatives is needed. As a government, we have demonstrated our commitment towards the creation and nurturing of such programmes. We have always recognised that for innovation to obtain tangible results, there has to be total commitment to the sustainment of this ever-evolving platform. Thus, we ensured to create the necessary framework and ecosystem that protects research and innovation even on an international level, and in this regard, more needs to be done,” said Minister Schembri. He augured well the selected awardees and encouraged them to explore other initiatives offered by other entities, which can serve as a springboard for their ground-breaking concepts.

The Rector of the University of Malta Alfred Vella said that, as we have seen a boost in funds specialised in tackling the current global pandemic, the TOSFA funds continue to provide support to researchers and start-ups whose focus lies in other fields. “The number and highly competitive applications received is a clear indication of people’s persistence and determination to take their ventures and research forward. This may have meant they had to improvise and adapt their approach; however, it has certainly highlighted their determination to overcome the challenges faced. It brings to the fore the entrepreneurial spirit which is a vital part of thriving in the competitive market,” he said.

There was a total of 36 submissions for the Seed Fund. The winners of the Seed Fund category are;

–   Smart Materials which is seeking to commercialize a novel, scalable production method for a high-performance material for personal protective equipment;

–   Fortify a new meal prep company providing gym goers with fresh, healthy, and delicious meals that can help them increase their muscle mass and improve their physical performance;

–   Revyl which is an event-based platform, where event organisers can post events and users purchase tickets to attend these events;

–   Gainchanger1.1 which is seeking to improve the visibility and ranking of a website on search carried out on online search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo1 by incorporating use of AI technology. Gainchanger is looking at automating the off-page SEO process by learning about industry competition and search engine algorithms over time, on a larger scale and at faster speed than a human operator.

For the proof of concept fund, there were eight submissions. The final winners of this category were;

–   Bald no more which will look at the prevention or means to reverse balding which may lead to a creation of a commercial product;

–   Altered which shall create a product that could possibly revolutionize the haemoglobinopathy market, which faces a major challenge since there is no cure and it faces a lack of approved therapies. Haemoglobinopathies are the most common inherited genetic disorders worldwide, caused by gene mutations affecting haemoglobin (Hb), the oxygen-transporting protein in red blood cells.