The PwC €1 million Start up Fund

    When it comes to starting off a business, few are those people who actually take the plunge. Many people become overwhelmed with a number of thoughts such as: Is it a good idea? Will it kick off? Where do I get started? How do I fund my business idea? By the time they get these questions answered many would have probably given up and the “idea” gets lost forever or is eventually implemented by other people.

    For these reasons, PwC Malta is dedicating €1 million per annum in pro bono services to assist entrepreneurs in nurturing their business during the critical stage of starting up and growing a new business.

    PwC can help you find the answers to the following questions:

    Business start-ups

    • Is our business idea feasible from a financial perspective? How much capital do we need to fund it?
    • What legal form should our business take?
    • What skills do we need to hire and when?
    • Should we lease or purchase the assets required in our business?
    • How do we approach our bank to raise debt funding?
    • How do we apply for any grants or any other assistance that may be available to us?


    Young growing companies

    • How can our business become more profitable?
    • How fast can we grow our business?
    • Why are we always cash poor? How can this problem be managed?
    • How should we structure a merger, acquisition or strategic alliance?
    • Can we afford to move into a new market?
    • How can our business become more tax efficient?


    Who is eligible?

    The fund is open to all aspiring entrepreneurs or start-ups that have innovative ideas or the prospect of growing. Applications will be reviewed by a committee made up of a mix of representatives from PwC, Times of Malta, Microsoft Malta, University of Malta and an external business leader. Certain eligibility criteria apply.

    How we can assist you

    Business start-up consulting and mentorship

    • Business plan preparation, including preparation of budgets and forecasts
    • Assistance in the raising of bank finance
    • Assistance in the application for Malta Enterprise grants
    • Assistance in the set up, structuring and registration of companies or partnerships
    • Tax advice and registration with tax and other authorities
    • Design and implementation of accounting and control systems
    • Computer software selection
    • Staff training in accounting, financial management and related topics
    • Financial management (capital structure, working capital management, etc)

    Our associates in this initiative

    For this Initiative, PwC Malta is collaborating with three key organisations:

    Times of Malta
    Credibility matters

    The Times of Malta, owned by Malta’s most influential media organisation Allied Newspapers Limited, is part of the country’s social fabric having been a persistent reality on the ground for decades, informing and updating the public through a constant commitment towards credible news coverage and the country it serves.

    Throughout Malta’s various historical moments and struggles, the Times of Malta was there to document it all, never failing to publish an edition even in the direst of circumstances, a fact of which the company is very proud.

    Due to its independence and credibility, many regard the Times of Malta as the news source of ‘reference’ and it in fact boasts the highest circulation in a country saturated with newspapers. The Times of Malta brand also extends to a plethora of inhouse magazines and supplements.

    The continual emergence of new ways of disseminating content, especially with the on-going diffusion of personal computers, mobile phones and tablets, means that Allied Newspapers is constantly endorsing new ways of carrying out its business.

    The company’s leading news portal – – launched over 10 years ago, sees up to 300,000 unique IP hits in a day when major events occur. It is the most followed local website in Malta and the fifth most followed overall following the likes of Google, Facebook and YouTube.

    The company has just recently rolled out premium content to its subscribers. This significant package includes access to exclusive information, a digital version of the newspaper, digital archives containing news dating back to the 1930s, and access to news across different platforms, including a newly developed tablet and smartphone app. The company has recently also invested in an audio-visual department, creating a studio on site and training journalists to develop their skills to work well across a multimedia platform.

    University of Malta
    Creating an Entrepreneurial University

    Over the last few years, the University of Malta has embarked on an ambitious programme to transform itself into an entrepreneurial university, with the goal of rendering the organisation itself more business oriented and innovative; inducing faculty, students and staff to adopt a more entrepreneurial culture; and interacting with the regional stakeholders – private companies, government entities, commercial networks - so as to promote entrepreneurship at a National level for the socio-economic benefit of the country.

    The process picked up significant pace since September, with the launch of a project funded through the European Structural Funds specifically to build and consolidate a Knowledge Transfer Framework at the University and launch a formal training programme in Technology Entrepreneurship, spearheaded by the Knowledge Transfer Office and the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Business Incubation respectively.

    Since the setting up of the Directorate for Corporate Research and Knowledge Transfer in 2009, the University has been building the necessary internal infrastructure to support this goal. In addition, the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Business Incubation (CEBI) was recently set up as an academic centre of excellence in entrepreneurship at the University of Malta (UoM), complementing the existing endeavours in the area. More information about the Knowledge Transfer Office may be found at, whereas information about CEBI, the Intensive Training Program and a Masters program in Entrepreneurship may be found at

    Microsoft Malta

    Since 2003, Microsoft has been a partner to Malta, supporting its strategy in IT and contributing towards making Malta a regional centre of excellence. This was done through a number of initiatives in trustworthy computing, cloud computing, big/open data, education, and driving economic growth.  Most importantly it leads with a primary foundation to attract, invest in and develop the best people in the market, supporting them to grow exponentially as individuals and within the company.

    Moving forward, Microsoft Malta will be focused on continuing to enable our youth for success, driving economic growth, and being leaders in EU for hybrid cloud environments, both in the government and commercial sector.  With each employee, Microsoft Malta remains committed towards establishing Malta as a beacon and leader in leveraging IT to support its citizens.

    The Selection Committee

    Kevin Valenzia
    Territory Senior Partner, PwC Malta

    Kevin is the Territory Senior Partner in Malta and has been a partner with PwC Malta since 1987. He is the immediate past Chairman of the Institute of Financial Services Practitioners in Malta and a former governor of Finance Malta, the body responsible for promoting Malta in the financial services field. He is consulted regularly by the Government on matters relating to the financial services industry and on the introduction of new legislation. His role at PwC includes advising on structuring for a large number of international groups of companies and private clients.
    Joseph Camilleri
    Partner, PwC Malta - Head of Business Development

    Joe is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England Wales (FCA), a Fellow of the Malta Institute of Accountants (FIA) and a Certified Public Accountant and warranted auditor (CPA). He joined Price Waterhouse, London in 1980 as a student trainee Chartered Accountant and was admitted to the partnership in July 1994. He is in charge of a wide and varied portfolio of audit clients, and his industry specialism is in the financial services sector, mainly in asset management. He is the asset management leader in Malta and was the lead audit engagement partner on most of Malta’s primary listed and domiciled collective investments schemes. He also assisted in the drafting of amendments to the local investment services legislation, both with respect to fiscal amendments as well as regulatory issues. Joe has also acted in an advisory capacity to various audit and non-audit clients, including the privatisation of several local banks and companies. He is also author of various articles that appeared in the PwC publications and was a speaker at two seminars held in New York and Boston on Malta as a Financial Services Centre. Joe brings with him nearly 20 years of experience in the financial services sector, particularly in asset management and private equity.
    Bonavent Gauci
    Partner, PwC Malta - Advisory Services

    Bonavent joined the firm in 2000 after obtaining a first class degree in Bachelor of Accountancy at the University or Malta. Prior to joining Advisory, Bonavent spent five years in the firm’s Assurance practice. Bonavent specialises in corporate finance and strategic business advisory. He assists clients in business planning, valuations, feasibility studies, mergers and business recovery. His portfolio includes companies in a wide range of industries including telecommunications, construction, manufacturing, energy and financial services. Bonavent leads the team, which prepares independent expert valuations and provides assistance to clients in the MFSA application process for investment services and financial institution licences. He has a special interest in the valuation of complex financial instruments and hard to value assets and over the past two years has carried out a number of engagements and delivered various training sessions in relation to this subject. Bonavent is an accredited PwC trainer and has delivered various training sessions to PwC staff both in Malta and overseas. In 2009, he graduated from Warwick Business School with distinction obtaining a Master in Business Administration.
    Stephen Rees
    Paro Capital Ltd

    Stephen Rees has 25 years of experience in venture capital and general management, most of which in the technology sector. After various executive roles at Siemens, he successfully founded and built-up Astron Group, a microelectronics business with 2,500 employees in China and Hong Kong, was executive board member at Flextronics, a $20 billion NASDAQ listed technology group with over 50,000 employees and then founded Atila Ventures in 2000, a technology venture business with focus on microelectronics, data communications and software. Stephen founded TRP in 2003, a technology research company involved in M&A transactions and IPOs and recently founded Paro Capital, a Malta based corporate finance and private equity firm. Stephen Rees holds both Austrian and British citizenship, has a degree in Production Engineering from the HTL St. Pölten in Austria, a degree in Finance from the City of London Business School and is a resident of Malta.
    Panayiotis Ioannou
    Country Manager, Microsoft Malta

    Panayiotis Ioannou is the Country Manager for the Microsoft Malta subsidiary within Central and Eastern Europe. He is directly responsible for the overall success of Microsoft’s business and partner relationships in the country. Panayiotis is a seasoned professional with a 10-year career at Microsoft where he first began in Cyprus, in 2006 in the capacity of Partner Account Manager for both Cyprus and Malta subsidiaries. In 2008 he moved to the position Small Solutions & Partners Lead for Cyprus, where he was responsible for the Small & Medium Business customers and the Partner ecosystem for the subsidiary. Since becoming a Country Manager for Malta in 2015, he has been focusing on leveraging Microsoft’s strategic partnership with the Maltese Government by executing 5-year strategic agreement, and emphasising on accelerating digital transformation in the cloud with Microsoft partners. Panayiotis is part of the HiPo program and since he joined Microsoft has been awarded with numerous precious honours such as the Microsoft Platinum Club Award, two times Microsoft Gold Club Award, along with a Worldwide Top Developed Small Subsidiary Award for Cyprus & Malta in 2012. Panayiotis received his Bachelor’s and Masters’ Mechanical Engineering degree from The Catholic University of America, Washington DC, in 2000. Initially he worked as a project engineer and then as a project manager in Washington DC District, where acted as the primary on-site leader for execution of commercial and industrial engineering projects. Panayiotis is originally from Cyprus and is single. Outside working hours, he loves cooking and enjoying time with family and friends.
    Prof. Alfred J. Vella
    Rector, University of Malta

    Professor Alfred J. Vella is the Rector of the University of Malta as from July 2016. He was born in Bormla in November 1950. He graduated B.Sc. in 1971 and M.Sc. in 1975 from the University of Malta and Ph.D. in organic geochemistry in 1984 from Colorado School of Mines. Professor Vella joined the University of Malta in 1987 and mainly teaches and researches the area of environmental chemistry. He has published papers in international journals in environmental and pollution science and petroleum geochemistry, among others. Professor Vella served for many years as Head of Department of Chemistry and during 1997 and 2007 he was also Dean of the Faculty of Science. He has served as Pro-Rector for Academic Affairs between July 2006 and June 2016. Professor Vella serves on the board of the Environment and Resources Authority. He also directs the National Authority of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
    Michel Rizzo
    Managing Director, Allied Newspapers Limited

    Mr Michel Rizzo joined the Allied Group of companies in January 2005 as Chief Executive Officer, and later Managing Director, of MediaMaker Limited, an integrated communications company dedicated to the production of high-quality magazines, primarily for insertion in the Group’s newspaper products. In 2013, he was appointed Managing Director of Progress Press Company Limited, one of Malta’s oldest commercial printing companies. In February 2017, Mr Rizzo took on the role of Managing Director of Allied Newspapers Limited, publishers of the Times of Malta and The Sunday Times of Malta. Directly prior to his employment with the Allied Group, Michel spent 13 years at BPC International, one of Malta’s largest and most established marketing communications agencies. There, he occupied the role of Client Services Director and his client portfolio included some of Malta’s top advertising clients such as HSBC Bank Malta plc, Simonds Farsons Cisk plc, Vodafone Malta and the Unilever Group.

    Brochure and Press Release

    Articles in the Press

    2015 Press Releases

    Seed Investment Scheme

    Read more about the Seed Investment Scheme

    In association with

    Times of Malta     University of Malta     Microsoft Malta