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Malta lures non-EU start-ups with residency programme

Entrepreneurs can enjoy the picturesque surroundings of Malta, as the country’s start-up residency programme opens its doors to global innovators. Photo: Supplied
Entrepreneurs can enjoy the picturesque surroundings of Malta, as the country’s start-up residency programme opens its doors to global innovators. Photo: Supplied

The island nation of Malta has unveiled an enticing initiative aimed at luring non-European Union entrepreneurs and their families to establish their start-ups on its shores. The start-up residency programme, jointly initiated by Residency Malta and Malta Enterprise, has been introduced to foster innovation and entrepreneurial spirit within the Mediterranean nation.

Launched late last year, it is a collaborative effort between Residency Malta, the agency responsible for issuing residence permits, and Malta Enterprise, the government’s economic development agency. This initiative is designed to create an attractive environment for non-EU start-ups, offering them both a place to call home and ample financial support to realise their innovative visions.

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Under this programme, entrepreneurs and their families can receive a medium-term residence permit, valid for up to eight years, facilitating their settlement in Malta while they focus on launching and nurturing their businesses.

A significant highlight of the programme is the substantial financial support offered, with up to €800,000 (about $856 000) available for new start-ups and €200,000 (about $214 000) allocated for go-to-market or high-value projects.

Malta Enterprise complements the start-up residency programme by offering tailored financial support schemes, consultancy, and development opportunities. This comprehensive support package enhances the programme’s appeal, making Malta an attractive destination for entrepreneurs looking to establish themselves in Europe.

Malta’s full membership in the European Union positions it as an ideal gateway for innovative start-ups aiming to expand into the region. This reputation was further solidified when the island nation secured the 21st position globally in the 2022 Global Innovation Index, as recognised by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The programme is uniquely tailored to attract non-EU entrepreneurs and their immediate family members, including founders, co-founders, and core employees. Apart from the financial support and business-friendly environment, beneficiaries of the programme enjoy the prospect of business and family stability, as well as the ability to attract and retain international talent.

Additionally, they gain visa-free access to Schengen countries for 90 out of a rolling 180 days, enabling them to connect with business contacts across Europe.

Charles Mizzi, CEO of Residency Malta, emphasised the unparalleled opportunities provided by the start-up residence programme, stating, “Malta is in a perfect position to attract and develop start-ups from around the world intent on purpose-led projects in Europe, Africa, or the Middle East. Our position in the Mediterranean makes us the gateway to the EU and MENA. This, combined with Malta’s business-friendly environment and the two-fold considerations for both family and start-up development, creates a truly unique opportunity for entrepreneurs.”

Beyond its attractive business prospects, Malta offers a rich history, vibrant culture, and a cosmopolitan lifestyle. Located in the heart of the Mediterranean, the island nation boasts over 230 connections by sea and air to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. With top-tier education options, a strong focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, and one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe, Malta has seen a growing expatriate population, comprising 30% of its working population.

Applications for the programme are now open, and eligible start-ups must commit to establishing themselves in Malta. They should operate in industries such as high-end manufacturing, industrial services analogous to manufacturing, software development, life sciences, medtech, biotech, pharmaceuticals, blue, green, and sustainable industries, or engage in other innovative activities with novel processes, services, or products not readily available in the market.

Detailed eligibility criteria, requirements, and additional information can be found on the official programme website.

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