Life Sciences Park ‘on-time’, plans amended to be more cost-effective

Chris Cardona says his comment on leakage of sensitive documents did not infringe the Whistle-blower act.

During a visit to the Life Sciences Park, Economy Minister Chris Cardona said the Government felt the need to lower the rental prices in order to attract more investment.

Presently, talks are being held with 28 interested investors with half of them already at an advanced stage. Most of these are foreign-based.

"Everything is going to plan and timeframes are being respected. The first part of the project will be ready by the end of this year, while the second part should be finished by September 2014," the Minister announced. First investors should start operating from the end of next year.

At the end of the visit, Chris Cardona was also asked about his decision to upturn a decision of the privatisation unit, where he reiterated the only scandal was how direct orders were previously awarded.

"There is no corruption, the controversy lies on a political decision. Thus, my comment on taking disciplinary action on who leaked the documents does not infringe the whistle-blower act. The code of ethics of civil servants specifies the leaking of documents is strictly prohibited," Cardona said.

The Life Sciences Park is a €38 million project, co-financed through the European Regional Development Fund.

Originally, the Park was planned to house around 60 units including high-standard laboratories. However, there were some changes "in order to be more cost-effective".

Biotechnology entrepreneur Sir Chris Evans, who in November 2011 was appointed chairperson of the BioMalta Foundation, is to be replaced after he resigned. Cardona underlined that Evans did not meet several contractual obligations and resigned after "he did not deliver".

Located within walking distance from the University of Malta and Mater Dei Hospital, the project aims to facilitate the sharing of facilities and resources of various entities. This would lead to the creation of a cluster within the life sciences industry with particular emphasis on Research and Development.