COVID-19 Research & Development Fund

30 April 2020

The Malta Council for Science and Technology (‘MCST’), together with Malta Enterprise Corporation have issued a call for proposals under the COVID-19 R&D Fund to encourage eligible public, academic and private entities with an operating base in Malta to engage in research and development (‘R&D’) activities with the aim of identifying innovative and improved approaches for the prevention, control and containment of the COVID-19 and/or future infectious diseases.

The types of entities which can submit proposals for this call are:

  1. Undertakings (including public entities) that are engaged in an economic activity (as defined) and which carry out fundamental research, industrial research or experimental development projects;
  2. Public Entities / Research and knowledge-dissemination organizations which do not carry out an economic activity (as defined).

The rules for participation under this incentive scheme vary depending on the type of eligible entity, with the main differentiating factors relating to the type of research and development activities carried out and the extent of support, as shown below:

Undertakings engaged in an economic activity

Research activity could address (but is not limited to)

  • relevant medicinal products (including vaccines) and treatments, their intermediates, active pharmaceutical ingredients and raw materials; 
  • medical devices, hospital and medical equipment and necessary raw materials; 
  • disinfectants and their intermediary products and raw chemical materials necessary for their production; 
  • data collection and processing tools related to innovative and/or improved approaches with regards to current and/or future infectious disease prevention; 
  • trajectory of the epidemic/pandemic disease;
  • applications aimed at better dissemination of recommendations by national and/or international health authorities;   
  • any other research related to infectious diseases that can lead to human epidemy

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Aid Intensity

  • Fundamental research – 100% of eligible costs
  • Industrial Research – 80% of eligible costs *
  • Experimental Development – 80% of eligible costs *

* may be increased by 15% if the activity is carried out through cross-border collaboration with research organisations or other undertakings 

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Public Entity / Research and knowledge dissemination organisations

Research activity could address (but is not limited to)

 

  • prediction, prevention, control and treatment of infectious diseases that can lead to an epidemy;
  • virology studies;
  • transmissibility of infectious diseases that can lead to fast outbreak;
  • public health management system such as the vulnerability of the human population to pre-existing immunity, target groups with higher attack rates or increased risk of serious diseases;
  • novel/improved identification tests;
  • increased efficiency in swabbing;
  • medical equipment or products to improve patients’ health and/or contain the spread;
  • Artificial Intelligence to predict and prevent epidemiology;
  • mental health;
  • studies on molecular biology;
  • molecular docking studies;
  • cybernetics e.g. remote patient monitoring;
  • trajectory of the epidemic/pandemic disease;
  • applications aimed at better dissemination of recommendations by national and/or international health authorities;
  • any other research related to infectious diseases that can lead to human epidemy.

 

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Aid Intensity

  • Fundamental research – 100% of eligible costs
  • Industrial Research – 100% of eligible costs
  • Experimental Development – 100% of eligible costs

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The eligible expenditure under this Scheme includes costs directly related to and necessary for the R&D project during its duration and the subsequent IPR protection, clinical trial and regulatory procedures – these include the following: 

a)     Personnel Costs - wages of researchers and technical personnel, and other supporting staff for the duration they are engaged on the R&D project (cappings and criteria apply);

b)     Specialised equipment and research consumables;

c)     Other Operating Expenses incurred in relation to:

  • R&D services;
  • consumable R&D materials and supplies;
  • pre-clinical and clinical trials;
  • obtaining, validating and defending patents and other intangible assets;
  • obtaining the conformity assessments and/or authorisations necessary for the marketing of new and improved vaccines and medicinal products, medical devices, hospital and medical equipment, disinfectants, and personal protective equipment;

d)     Overheads - capped at 10% of direct eligible costs (subject to conditions); and

e)     Subcontracted activities – as defined

The rules further set out costs which are specifically considered as ineligible for the purposes of this scheme. These include purchase of equipment or services from partners (as defined) or their subsidiaries, re-purchase of equipment originally procured through other funding mechanisms, standard office equipment, and other costs.

Eligible R&D projects, which can include projects that have received the COVID-19 specific Seal of Excellence, should last up to a maximum of eighteen months and should commence on or after 1 February 2020 but not later than 31 December 2020 (exceptions and limitations may apply for projects commencing before 1 February 2020).

The total maximum budget for this Call amounts to €5,300,000 and the aid is granted in the form of a cash grant, which is partially paid upon the signing of the Grant Agreement. 

The fund shall operate through open calls and shall be available up to the earlier of the date when all funds are exhausted or 31 December 2020. Applications should reach MCST electronically via email on ri.mcst@gov.mt by 30 November 2020.

Contact us

Neville Gatt

Neville Gatt

Head of Tax, PwC Malta

Tel: +356 2564 6791

David Ferry

David Ferry

Tax Partner, PwC Malta

Tel: +356 2564 6897

Mark Lautier

Mark Lautier

Tax Partner, PwC Malta

Tel: +356 2564 6744

Victoria Muscat

Victoria Muscat

Senior Manager, Tax, PwC Malta

Tel: +356 2564 6739

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