PwC Malta has received 87 applications so far for its €1 million Start-up Fund launched in mid-June 2013.
This is an initiative whereby PwC Malta assists start-ups with innovative business ideas, by providing pro-bono advisory services. The fund is supported by Times of Malta.
Applications are reviewed by a selection committee that meets on a regular basis. So far, 72 of the applications have been accepted. The selected start-ups have now joined the programme and are being mentored by PwC staff with the hope that they will grow into successful businesses.
Most applications relate to ventures that are in an embryonic stage or have been operational for less than a year. Around half of the start-ups consist of businesses in the emerging tech sector, attracted by the relative ease with which technology companies can market and ‘export’ their product internationally. Other popular industries include health, arts and culture, although even in these cases, a number include a technology angle within their business concept.
The PwC €1 million Start-up Fund provides business support to entities primarily by assisting in the preparation of business plans, raising of bank finance, setting up and registration of companies and tax advice.
“Often the initial assistance required by start-up companies would be to help them flesh out a viable business and strategic plan from a business idea, as well as mentoring them as to how they could take their business idea forward,” Bonavent Gauci, PwC Advisory senior manager and coordinator of this initiative, said.
“Our role within the start-up community extends beyond the assistance provided to the individual start-ups. Together with business incubators and committed organisations, we seek to promote and encourage initiatives that could be of benefit to start-up businesses”.
The firm also actively supports other initiatives assisting start-ups, by providing mentors to business incubators across Malta, participating in various events that promote entrepreneurship, and by delivering training sessions to aspiring entrepreneurs.
In the 2015 Budget, the government announced the introduction of initiatives aimed at increasing access to finance to SMEs. The first of these initiatives is the Seed Investment Scheme where investors who take up an equity stake in start-ups benefit from tax credits commensurate with the value of their investment.
“Further to the launch of this initiative, we now look forward to provide assistance to start-ups in raising equity from investors who take advantage of these tax benefits in order to diversify their investment portfolio,” Mr Gauci said.