The Maltese Government sponsored a state-of-the-art life sciences centre, named the BioMalta campus, in San Gwann. The centre was developed to foster the growth of the country’s life sciences industry.
The life sciences centre provides laboratory space to new and existing companies. It also extends business advisory services, financial incentives and tangible support to companies intending to set-up operations.
The development plan of the project was approved by the Malta Environment & Planning Authority in June 2011. Construction of the BioMalta campus was completed in 2015. The project will create more than 500 jobs by 2019.
The BioMalta life sciences centre project was launched in May 2010 by the Finance and Economic Development Ministry. The project is aimed at attracting foreign direct investment into the bio-technology and life sciences sectors of the country.
Malta Enterprise is the government agency responsible for attracting foreign investors and promoting industrial development in Malta.
The project was completed in two phases. It forms part of a larger biotechnology park proposed to be built in the Sam Gwann Industrial Estate.
The project was completed at an estimated cost of €38m ($50m). It was co-financed by the Maltese Government, Malta Enterprise and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The EU funded 80% of the project cost.
The BioMalta campus was built over ex-Yorkie and disused VF jeans factories in the San Gwann Industrial Estate. Malta Enterprise also had an office building at the site. The office was relocated to create space for the BioMalta campus. The existing buildings were demolished to make way for the construction of the research and development park.
The project site is strategically located in proximity to the University of Malta and Mater Dei Hospital, enabling operating companies to work in collaboration with the university staff and the hospital.
The BioMalta campus initially consists of four buildings comprising 10,000m² of laboratory space and 3,500m² of business incubation facilities. There are 61 lab units, including 11 incubation units.
One of the four buildings is dedicated for retail, conference and meeting facilities. It also has food and beverage outlets, exhibition space and an auditorium with 150 to 200 seats capacity. The lab space is leased to companies involved in biological and chemical research.
The campus includes wet laboratories designed in accordance with the standards of BS/EN 12128:1998, which suggests the containment levels to be maintained in biotechnology laboratories.
The modular lab design enables contracting companies to modify the space arrangement according to their requirements. The containment level of the labs is maintained by using ventilation and extraction systems with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.
The contract for the design of the campus was awarded to TBA Periti. The foundation stone was laid for the project in February 2013. Construction of the project was completed in 2015.
The research laboratories at the BioMalta campus carry out Containment Level 2 fields of research, which means working with biological agents, hazardous chemicals and genetically modified organisms with a medium level of risk.
The BioMalta campus is involved only in research and development activities. Malta Enterprise plans to set up a similar facility near the campus to attract biotechnology manufacturers to the country.
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