At UM research projects address current needs and opportunities, as well as those that may affect the country in the future. This is done in conjunction with Government and private industry, and also by participating in EU research programmes and funding.

UM offers a significant contribution to society by translating research and creativity into social and economic development. The Corporate Research and Knowledge Transfer Office specifically supports the translation of research and technology developed at UM into products and services that are useful to society. The Office also promotes research collaboration with industry and supports UM academics and industry to set up collaborative projects, very often assisting them in obtaining funding from Government through entities such as Malta Enterprise and the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST).

Researchers at UM conduct research in a variety of areas such as adaptive systems, seismic monitoring. As part of the only general university in Malta, UM researchers have a special responsibility to conduct research about areas of an indigenous or national dimension, such as local marine and terrestrial fauna and flora, properties and conservation issues related to the Maltese globigerina limestone, Malta's rich history, indigenous disorders such as thalassaemia, Maltese linguistics, and the resilience and vulnerability of islands and small states. UM is also home to a number of leading research programmes, including digital games research, aerospace technologies, information policy and governance, climate change, physical oceanography and maritime law.

In 2011, UM established the Research Innovation and Development Trust (RIDT). It is an integral component of Malta’s established policy to bolster investment in research and development on a national level. RIDT attracts funds from private and corporate bodies to be used to maximise and exploit the research milieu at UM, and to foster the commercial exploitation of research.

Since its setting up, RIDT has managed to engage in various sectors of the Maltese society and to raise the much needed awareness about the benefits of university research and the need to support it. This engagement has led to a number of community-financed initiatives and projects including, amongst others, Ph.D. scholarships in cancer research and in climate change, a kidney research programme, research projects in engineering, a fully-fledged mobile dental clinic, and a research programme in the genetics of osteoporosis. Recently, in January 2018, a team of researchers from the Faculty of Medicine & Surgery has developed an accurate and sensitive test to enhance the molecular classification of breast cancer using cutting-edge technology.

The diversity and quality of the research initiatives, activities and projects conducted at UM are also supported by the Research Support Services Directorate (RSSD) through the provision of core services that vary from access to external funding to efficient management of laboratory facilities available for research.