The two Mediterranean island nations of Malta and Cyprus have much to recommend them in terms of life science investment opportunities.
Malta, tucked away underneath Sicily, has a population of only 450,000 and an area of 122 square miles. However, the country has managed to establish itself as the fastest growing economy in the EU with 6.6% GDP growth in 2017, thanks in large part to its willingness and ability to capitalize on niches ignored or disregarded by others.
This strongly entrepreneurial mindset is especially prevalent in Malta’s healthcare and life sciences industries. A light regulatory touch has long attracted many companies to establish R&D and manufacturing plants for generic pharmaceuticals on the island in the knowledge that products developed in Malta can be launched globally immediately on the expiry of the originator drug – a massive draw factor for cost- and time-concious generics companies.
Building on this robust base, Malta continues to seek niches in which it can establish competitive advantages. The key opinion leaders, government officials and company heads featured in this report touch on many of these new niches – including medical tourism, the highly promising albeit controversial field of medical cannabis production, clinical research, as well as distribution and logistics – capitalizing on Malta’s highly strategic geographic position as a link between Europe and Africa.
With a population of just 1.2 million and a proportionately small pharmaceutical market by EU standards, Cyprus is often overlooked as a healthcare and life sciences investment destination. However, with the island now on the road to economic recovery, an air of confidence is again beginning to permeate Cyprus, bolstered by the country’s key selling points: a geostrategic location close to the rest of Europe as well as the Middle East and Africa, full EU membership and norms, a favorable tax regime, a business environment conducive to growth, a large, well-educated and internationally experienced talent pool, and comparatively low costs.
Low government expenditure on healthcare has been a persistent problem for Cypriot patients for several years, restricting their access to drugs and creating some of the highest out-of-pocket expenditure levels in Europe. However, change appears to be on the horizon with the implementation of a universal healthcare system – GeSY – set to be fully complete by 2020.
The industry insiders whose comments form the basis of this new report give their take on the potential impact that GeSY will have on their operations and on Cyprus as a whole. Other topics discussed include Cypriot companies’ internationalization strategies, the country’s tentative steps into medical cannabis, and how Cyprus is establishing a name for itself as a premier medical tourism hotspot.