Two global tech companies and a technology-focused venture capital firm have opened a new European technology hub in Malta.

Acronis, Parallels and Runa Capital will support the Mediterranean island in becoming the first ‘smart island’ through accelerating innovation and participating in national blockchain initiatives.

Runa Capital will be the first venture capital firm in Malta to provide funding to local start-ups, while Acronis and Parallels will engage in joint research projects with local firms and institutions.

This includes the possibility of a new R&D centre focusing on advanced technologies in data protection, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain.

The trio are expected to contribute up to $10m over a three-year period.

The news was hailed by Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who said: “The government is embracing new disruptive technologies and wants Malta to become a leader in new technology in Europe.

“We are doing this by preparing the right regulatory frameworks as well as laying the foundations for businesses such as Acronis, Parallels and Runa Capital who offer support for our national blockchain efforts to invest in this new emerging economic niche.

"Government is laying the grounds for such sectors. We can, and we are, providing leadership and policies that allow ideas to flourish.

“We are also simplifying access to finance and investment which will help our young professionals to make their ideas happen.

"But we surely cannot succeed without companies such as Acronis, Runa and Parallels who are coming forward to invest in local start-ups.”

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According to the 2017 Digital Economy and Society Index published by the European Commission, Malta ranks 12th out of the 28 EU Member states, with strong positions in broadband connectivity, use of digital technology by businesses and the provision of public digital services.

As part of the joint collaboration, Acronis says it will support Malta’s drive to become a centre for blockchain application.

Earlier this year, Malta’s cabinet approved the first draft of a national strategy to promote blockchain, supporting local firms in applying the technology in a variety of industry sectors.

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