Malta has intensified its relationship with NASA in an effort to increase space experiments by Maltese scientists and in identifying niche economic areas that Malta can thrive in. This closer relationship was cemented during a visit by Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Research and Innovation, Keith Azzopardi Tanti at the NASA Ames Research Centre in Silicon Valley, California. Parliamentary Secretary Azzopardi Tanti was accompanied by University of Malta Professor Joseph Borg who has been responsible for Malta’s first space experiment, the Maleth Programme.

During their visit to the GeneLab at NASA Ames Research Centre, the Maltese delegation was invited to showcase the work of the local Maleth Programme and its ongoing missions. Professor Borg has been Malta’s representative in NASA’s open repository for space biology data for the past two years. The two space missions in which Malta participated in recently were designed to send a biomedical science experiment to the International Space Station.

At GeneLab the discussions revolved around the strengthening of existing partnerships between this institution and Malta-based academics. The two sides agreed to flesh out an agreement to send a Maltese researcher on a six-month internship at the NASA GeneLab, to roll out a STEM related Bootcamp in Malta and prospects of hosting a NASA symposium locally.

In a separate engagement the Maltese delegation met Illumina at their offices and start-up accelerator in Foster City, California. Illumina is the world leader in the manufacturing of genomic testing equipment for both research and diagnostic purposes. The work that our country is doing under the StartInMalta initiative was also discussed with Illumina Accelerator. This initiative gives help to local startups and attracts international startups to Malta.

In both meetings Parliamentary Secretary Azzopardi Tanti presented Malta’s Smart Specialisation strategy and the National Space Strategy which shall lead to Malta’s first Space Act.

“We believe that the space industry can become another valuable contributor to the Maltese economy. We are determined to take all the necessary strategic steps to identify the niche space sectors which we can contribute to in this rapidly evolving field. This was the aim of both meetings that we have been involved in at NASA and Illumina. As parliamentary secretary responsible for the youth sector I am also satisfied that we have opened new opportunities for internships and scholarships within such prestigious entities like NASA Gene lab and Stanford”, said Keith Azzopardi Tanti.

The delegation also held meetings at Stanford University, specifically with Professor Joseph Wu who leads the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute. An agreement was achieved regarding a long-term scholarship programme for young Maltese professionals to conduct post-doc research at Stanford University, one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

The Maltese delegation also included Anthony David Gatt from Malta Enterprise, the government’s economic development and investment promotion arm and which is leading the national initiative StartInMalta.​

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