Medfest’19 “Invest in the future” is the cross-border innovative event aimed at encouraging investments on Sicilian and Maltese business ideas
Medfest’19: a day focussed on Sicilian and Maltese business ideas to support equity financing, an innovative method to boost investments
MEDFEST’19 was held on 14 December, 2019 in the beautiful campus of the University of Malta, in Valletta, immersed in a charming Christmas atmosphere. More than 150 people and selected investors were invited to be part of the event. Its innovative concept has been devised to encourage investments in new businesses and launch on the market intellectual properties. It was organised by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Incubation (CEBI) at the University of Malta and TAKEOFF Enterprise Campus.
MEDFEST’19 is a a Malta-Sicily joint initiative funded by the INTERREG V-A Italy-Malta cooperation project I KNOW – Interregional Key Networking for Open Innovation empoWerment-, and it is based on VentureFest, the successful original event devised in Great Britain. The latter combines well-defined educational, financial and entrepreneurial aspects with a proactive approach and pools together entrepreneurs and investors to promote equity financing.
The opening speech of the morning session, called The Future is Bright, was given by Aaron Farrugia Malta’s Parliamentary Secretary for European funds and Social Dialogue. Then, Sebastiano Di Stefano, the Manager of the I-Know Project and Russel Smith, the director of CEBI at Malta University, took the floor to illustrate the excellent cross-border cooperation opportunities for Sicily and Malta stemming from the I-Know project.
Other speakers provided more details about equity financing and investment opportunities for start-up companies, namely Timothy Zammit, from RSM Malta, a consulting company specialized in fiscal and other matters which supports developing and ambitious organizations; and Kurt Farrugia, CEO of Malta Enterprise, an economic development agency acting as facilitator with investors in all sectors and providing financial support to start-up companies through Business START and other measure such as Start-up Finance.
The following session, The Future is Now, continued with Anton Bartolo, University of Malta, Raffaele Scuderi, University Kore of Enna and Andrea Cirà, University of Messina, who provided an overview about research opportunities and gave a wealth of information about know-how, spin-off companies and patents for investors. Then, Giancarlo Visalli and Joseph Bartolo explained the distinctive characteristics of the two incubators involved in the project, Arkimede of Messina and Takeoff of Malta, and reported about field actions and practical examples aimed at establishing the ideal conditions to make a commercial and social enterprise to thrive. The session ended with two show-cases: UoM Racing Team, a business involving young students of engineering who design racing cars; and Step Up for Parkinson one of the most successful social businesses in Malta.
The challenging afternoon session, The Future is Us, was based on the live-pitches of eight entrepreneurs, four coming from Sicily and four from Malta. Each of them had ten minutes to present their business idea and ten minutes for the Q&A session with a panel including three experts such as Johan Zammit, the founder of Smart Studios, Kurt Farrugia, the CEO Malta Enterprise and Jan Stockhausen, Etherisc Chief Legal Architect. Moderator of the debate was Professor Philip Wragg and it was conducted so to stir the interest of some potential private investors (Business Angels) who attended the event.
The creators of the innovative business ideas selected through the Call for Ideas of the I-know project participated in training and mentoring activities led by experts and in a Masterclass held by the CEBI team of the University of Malta to develop their business plan and fine-tune the launch of their business idea. The program used a list of twenty-five questions to train people on how to collect stock funds and finance high-technology commercial opportunities and growth. The Q&A sessions focused on the initial stage with the Business Angels (each round was of 200k with two million Euros) and not on the due diligence agreement, which would be in common with the following VC rounds for an amount ranging from two to twenty million Euros.
8 Business Ideas Presented
The 4 Sicilian Business Ideas:
EDYPACK (Messina). It is an innovative start-up company presented by Rossella Vadalà and it is developing a device to spray food with an ultra-thin edible biofilm of sustainable material, which allows perishable food to last remarkably longer and can replace traditional food packaging solutions.
Domusys (Messina). It is an innovative start-up company presented by Giovanni Merlino and is going to introduce a revolution in the domotics and smart-home sectors by designing and building IoT devices which can be easily integrated in any type of home equipment.
ReConcrete (Messina). Presented by David Falliano, this business is active in industry 4.0 and aims at reducing time and costs in the building sector and increasing safety in buildings by using a patented cement compound and state-of-the-art devices.
Xhelia (Palermo). It is the result of an unusual combination between photovoltaic systems and cryptocurrencies. It was presented by its co-founder Salvatore Gallo and it streamlines and foster the production of energy from renewable sources by offering and alternative investment solution to small savers.
The 4 Maltese Business Ideas:
Lobeno. Nicholas Borg of SENSE presented solutions to save energy in hotels based on IoT.
Bring. Marius Ciavola engineered an e-commerce platform which is going to allow cheaper and faster deliveries in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
Shopping list. Marvel Vella worked on a platform for online purchasing services.
Merqury. Professor Andre Xuereb uses quantum physics to provide maximum IT security for applications in the financial, security, Governmental services sectors and many more.
One to Watch
(to be closely followed)
Two emerging ‘One to Watch’ technologies were also presented, namely Mitopharma coming from Sicily and Headstart Technology from Malta. Mitopharma was presented by Professor Ms Angela Anna Messina from the University of Catania and is studying an innovative amino acid capable of slowing down the development of neurodegenerative diseases (i.e. Alzhaimer, Parkinson and ALS). Headstart Technology, presented by its founder Klaus Conrad, creates educational services and products to help teachers, parents and children to develop the necessary competences and shift from being passive consumers of technology to becoming active creators.
The day ended with an extraordinary dinner set in the eighteenth century and held at the Maritime Museum of Malta. It was sponsored by Malta Enterprise. The two winning projects, Edypack for Sicily and Merqury for Malta, received approval from the experts and public and were awarded with bottles of wine kindly provided by the winery Ta Betta.
Sicilian teams have already received positive and interesting feedbacks on how to continue improving their business ideas. Their journey towards success is going on.
EDYPAC and the University of Messina have already started the patenting process.
Innovative business ideas prove to be potentially ready to play a major role within the local and international entrepreneurial ecosystem.
In addition to the opportunity to gather financial investments, teams will be provided free mentoring support from experts at the two business incubators Innesta of Messina and TAKEOFF of Malta. They will also receive coaching, business consulting, networking services and will be supported in identifying the best go-to-market strategies of the value of 10,000 and 15,000 Euros respectively.