Energy Research Knowledge Centre


Research themes and prioritisation


Malta’s national research and innovation system has undergone a rapid process of change and catching up in recent years, with the goal of increasing intensity and capacity for R&D and innovation. The new National Strategic Plan for Research and Innovation 2011–2020 is the principal strategy document for the development and coordination of policies and initiatives to increase public R&D in sectors that can add value to the economy. The National Strategic Plan is based around six main actions, of which one relates to energy and the environment.

Organisation of research


Within the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) is the principal agency responsible for developing science and technology policy and initiatives, in line with the recommendations of the National Strategic Research and Innovation Plan.

The Planning and Priorities Co-ordination Division and the EU Funds Division  manages Malta’s participation in the EU Structural Funds and other EU bilateral assistance programmes.

Within the Ministry of Finance, Economy and Investment, the national business support agency, Malta Enterprise (ME), promotes innovation and entrepreneurship in industry, attracts foreign direct investment and stimulates industry-led R&D.

The University of Malta, which is the only state-funded university, is responsible for the largest proportion of public sector research activity. A small number of public research institutes carry out research in energy-related areas.

Figure 1: Organisational structure of energy research in Malta.

Programmes and budgets


Most of Malta’s R&D is done by the private sector, especially subsidiaries of multinational companies.

Public research funds are channelled towards market-oriented research in particular domains: information and communication technologies (ICT), health and biotech, energy and the environment, and high-value-added manufacturing.

Research is supported principally by European structural funds. A considerably higher proportion of this budget was allocated to research and innovation in 2007–2013 compared to previous years.

Budget overview

Gross R&D expenditure (GERD) increased over the period 2007–2010 in absolute terms from €31.2 million to €38.6 million. The business sector is the major funder of R&D, with a share of approximately 59.3 % of total R&D expenditure, equivalent to approximately €22.91 million in 2010. Second is the higher education sector (37.0 % of total R&D expenditure in 2010) and third is funds from abroad (18.0 %).

Table 1: The main energy research programmes in Malta.

Programmes and initiatives

Operational Programme Investing in Competitiveness for a Better Quality of Life

Programm Operattiv I (OPI), Ninvestu fil-Kompetittivita’ għal Kwalita’ ta’ Ħajja Aħjar

Priority Axis 4 (Climate Change and Resource Efficiency) of the Operational Programme includes environmental aspects of energy production as well as the development of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. The programme is managed by the Ministry of Finance, the Economy and Investment, with funding from the EU and national sources. The budget for Axis 4 is €121 million for the period 2007–2013, of which €18.2 million is from national funds.

National government departments and funding organisations

Office of the Prime Minister (OPM)

Uffiċċju tal-Prim Ministru

This is the principal institution developing and implementing science and technology policy and initiatives.

Ministry of Finance, the Economy and Investment (MFEI)

Ministeru tal-Finanzi, l-Ekonomija u Investiment

The ministry manages the funding of the Operational Programme Investing in Competitiveness for a Better Quality of Life.

Planning and Priorities Coordination Division (PPCD)

Diviżjoni għall-Ippjanar u Koordinazzjoni tal-Prioritajiet

Together with the Funds and Programmes Division, the PPCD aims to ensure the efficient management of EU and bilateral funding programmes by providing effective co-ordination across all stakeholders.

Funds and Programmes Division (FDP)

Diviżjoni għall-Fondi u Programmi

Together with the Planning and Priorities Coordination Division, the FDP aims to ensure the efficient management of EU and bilateral funding programmes by providing effective co-ordination across all stakeholders.

Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA)

L-Awtorità ta’ Malta dwar l-Ambjent u l-Ippjanar

MEPA has a diverse portfolio that includes various aspects of the natural and cultural environment of the Maltese Islands, such as integrated coastal management, sustainable development, climate change and biodiversity.

National research programme management agencies


Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST)

Kunsill Malti għax-Xjenza u Teknoloġija

MCST is responsible for implementing the National Strategic Plan for Research and Innovation. It also manages the national R&D and innovation programme and is the national contact organisation for the EU’s Framework Programmes. MCST maintains close working links with Malta Enterprise, the national business support agency promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in business, and with the University of Malta.