Now in the 6th cycle, the TAKEOFF Seed Fund Awards have granted a total of €100,000 to five teams of entrepreneurs and researchers. The presentations were made by Minister for Education and Employment, Evarist Bartolo and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses, Nancy Caruana, at the University of Malta TAKEOFF Business Incubator.
The Minister stated that “Education can contribute to society's well being and prosperity if teaching and research prepare us to intervene effectively in the real world and help us solve problems and improve reality through knowledge, skills and a moral commitment to change society for the better.”
Prof. Ing. Saviour Zammit commented that “the University of Malta is keen to continue supporting funds such as the TAKEOFF Seed Fund as it is an aid for entrepreneurship and research commercialisation. Every year the considerable number of applications received shows the interest from both entrepreneurs as well as researchers at the University of Malta.”
There was a total of twenty-six submissions for the Seed Fund, and the top eleven were selected to pitch their ideas to the Adjudication Team. The final winners of the Proof of Concept category were: Pregnancy Risk Chip - to develop an easier, earlier way of detecting pregnancy complications; and iFoot – to assess foot pressure and temperature, adapting to different scenarios of walking and taking active participation in offloading areas of high peak plantar pressure during walking.
The winners of the Seed Fund category were: SmartAgriFarmsR&D – to focus on the research and development of hydroponic farming in Malta, specialising in the formulation of hydroponic solutions; Phileae - who are targeting the perfume niche brand market, allowing customers to personalise their scent; and iSmart – to focus on creating solutions to improve reading comprehension especially for those with learning difficulties (dyslexia, ADHD and other auditory or visual problems).
The teams will be working closely with the TAKEOFF Business Incubator and the University’s Knowledge Transfer Office over the next year in a bid to bring their ventures closer to commercialisation.