Current Affairs
Microsoft retains its centre in Malta – Maltese come up with various technological projects

The experience of the Microsoft Innovation Centre in Malta over the last five years is considered a success story and, in fact, although the company over the last few months has only retained a quarter of its centres around the world, one of the centres it has kept is the one based here in Malta.  Ideas have been developed at this centre which today have been turned into companies which employ various people and have even attracted foreign investment.

Three years ago, Neil Baldacchino began developing a technological concept from his home. With an investment of €1,000, he used the platform offered by the Microsoft Innovation Centre which, among other things, helped him with free software which otherwise would have cost him a lot of money and would have made it difficult for him to start off. Today, Neil is developing other technological systems which make it easy for an individual or companies which want to have an Internet presence but do not have the skills to do so.

Neil Baldacchino said ”to open an online shop you need a screen, you fill in trivial things such as the name, you switch on certain switches, press a button and in a minute you have created a new shop.”

Neil is looking towards the future of technology, including giving life to a piece of paper in a virtual way so that people can interact and find out more about a product.  Now that he has developed this concept, Niel is looking forward to next year when he will be increasing his number of employees from four to ten people.

In another room we found Frankie Inguanez and Robert Abela, who together with two other people last year also began working on a technological project and today are looking forward to expanding their service and attracting investment. They said that Microsoft helped them to overcome several challenges which start-up companies usually come up against.

Mr Inguanez said, ”one of the difficulties we found was how we could go about attracting clients, since a small company does not usually have enough credentials and experience for people to have trust in  you. Microsoft gave us a good opportunity because it is a strong brand and it gives  you the confidence for people to trust in you.”

These are just two of the 150 start-ups which over the last five years have relied on the Microsoft Innovation Centre at Skyparks. Mary Downing, who manages the centre, said that Malta is a success story and in fact the technology company has retained Malta from among the 32 centres it has kept around the world, while closing down another 70 centers which it had. She said that now, local start-ups can benefit from a new programme.

”In the past, with the Bizpmark programme, they were allowed to use its innovation centre for 3 years at no charge and the use of cloud and office 365 for all members of their team. We are now launching that they will become official startup partners and we can then open the doors and introduce them to Microsoft’s partners.”

Mrs Downing said that among the idea which have been developed over the last few years, there were those related to music apps, technological trainng and assisted training.

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