The Head of the European Commission Representation in Malta, Mr Martin Bugelli, opened the discussion pointing out the importance of keeping stakeholders always updated about existing opportunities. Then Dr. Joanna Drake, Director - Promotion of SME Competitiveness at the European Commission’s DG Enterprise and Industry, spoke about plans and initiatives in the area of access to finance both through decentralised (those managed nationally) and centralised funds (those managed at EU level), referring especially to the upcoming programmes COSME (Competitiveness of SMEs) and Horizon 2020 (the EU's programme for research and innovtion for 2014-2020), as well as the JEREMIE programme.
Mr Bruno Robino, Head of Region (Southern Countries), Regional Business Development, in the European Investment Fund (EIF), explained the EIF’s currently available as well as future planned EU financial engineering instruments to assist SMEs and Start-ups. His presentation was followed by a contribution by Mr Albert Frendo, Chief Officer – Credit, Bank of Valletta, who referred to addressed the subject from a banker's perspective.
In the second part of the seminar, Mr Steven Galea, CPA, discussed the realities that Maltese start-ups face. Ms Helga Ellul, representing the SME Working Group of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, called for more to be done at European level to encourage start-ups. Start-ups need not only financial assistance, but also “personal coaching”, she said. The closing remarks were made by Mr George Vella, President of the Malta Business Bureau, who referred to two studies undertaken by the MBB to contribute towards policy-making in this area.