Staying In A Three Star Hotel In Malta

A recent event which was attended by your author was for inventors in southern Europe. It was a moderately attended affair, perhaps the economic malaise that is setting Europe back has an impact on attendance…?

While at the event, in Malta, I did not see any great new leaps forward and apart from a couple of panel sessions about intellectual property, I was not wowed.

However, I did stay in a very nice hotel based in Sliema and located very close to the hotel that actually hosted the event. Unlike the 5 star host hotel, this was a very acceptable 3 star in a great location – and it was much cheaper to stay there, which my boss preferred.

Is European Citizenship For Sale?

As I look around the world and news for ideas of new and innovative business models, something has come to my mind often.

The model is neither new, or innovative, which is why it comes to mind – because the proponents use those words to describe their schemes every time!

I am referring to citizenship – or naturalization – schemes. These typically enable wealthy investors from other countries to make an investment (usually called a contribution) in a new country and along with some other criteria they will be able to obtain a passport from the country.

For people that live or were born in dangerous, unsafe, high tax or high risk locations, this can be a very appealing option.

At the time of writing, for example, Russia has been hit with sanctions from most of the developed world because of the ongoing trouble in Ukraine. If you happened to be a very wealthy individual in Russia with a family, getting some of your money and your family out might be an attractive idea.

There are a number of competing options – the market is getting crowded as governments struggle to raise money. Perhaps the most interesting citizenship scheme is from the tiny EU member Malta. More and more EU member states are bringing competing schemes to the market, but there may be few that compete with the designed to succeed Maltese scheme.

Applicants (in all the respectable programmes) need to pass some security tests, make full applications, become resident in the new country, prove that residency by renting or buying a residential property and making some form of “investment”. This is citizenship by investment after all ;-)

In some countries that investment requires starting a company that creates local jobs. In other places it means buying government bonds. In others it just relates to the contribution to the host country. Whatever it is, it is based on ability to pay and not talent. It is presumed that people with the ability to pay these prices also have some talents!

A Fantasy Football Innovator

Innovation in business models can come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Mostly, we think of innovation as something that people in white coats do in a lab. Of course this is not the case.

For most businesses, innovation is all about trial and error. Thinking about something, coming up with an idea, then finding a way to test it and then repeating the test until there is a conclusion. Did this change help the company? If so, how? Should we continue to do it?

This is a part of the startup mantra and model of rapid iteration. Not every iteration is rapid though!

One firm that we like a lot has received quite a lot of attention in the tiny island of Malta. The firm, Oulala, has used big data and an algorithm to rate footballers in each of Europe’s five highest leagues. This has enabled them to create a weekly fantasy football game that is far more advanced than anything else on the market, in the UK or Europe.

Sure, their concept came from one big idea, but to make it real they test and track all sorts of areas of their business and are constantly tweaking the game and user experience to make it all work. It is inspiring to see!