Microsoft Partners J2 Group, an IT solutions and software company based in Malta which knows its origins in Gozo, will be fronting Microsoft’s new presence in Gozo into what is probably Gozo’s most exciting IT project at the moment, the Gozo Innovation Hub.
Through this new destination, J2 will be showcasing Microsoft’s technology with special focus on AI and how Microsoft’s technology can help Gozo’s communities achieve more.
“We will essentially be replicating the Microsoft Innovation Centre here in Gozo where all those wanting to access Microsoft’s resources, be it businesspeople, teachers, developers, entrepreneurs, start-ups or students can do so from here,” explains Brian Darmanin, CEO of J2 Group.
Speaking about the relationship between J2 Group and Microsoft in Malta, Mr Darmanin recalled his twenty-five years of experience in the IT sector, working and deploying Microsoft’s technology. Eventually, he established his own company and partnered with J2. Three year ago, one of J2’s owners retired and Mr Darmanin bought his stake of ownership. Today, the company is a Microsoft Malta partner servicing over 500 clients with IT systems, software products, payroll systems and more.
“We were already operating in Gozo through premises located close to this new Innovation Hub just outside Victoria so when the opportunity was presented for us to relocate to this new Innovation Hub, we felt it was the right opportunity to strengthen our ties with Microsoft and we discussed the possibility of bringing the MIC experience to this hub,” he added.
Mr Darmanin reiterates that one of Gozo’s biggest problems at this moment remains finding the right human resources.
“We have developers here in Gozo working on products and some exciting projects but it is not enough. We came here to the Business Innovation Hub with a commitment to also increase the people working with us but talent and finding people to work in this industry, especially developers, remains an issue. And although this applies to many other sectors, in Gozo, it is something else. It is a bit of a chicken and egg situation – Gozitan youths think they won’t find jobs in Gozo so they relocate to Malta and at the same time, businesses who would be interested to consider setting up an operation in Gozo struggle to find the right people in Gozo because most people with potential are relocating to Malta.”
Mr Darmanin stresses that Gozo holds a lot of potential and that now, with Microsoft on board the opportunities are endless.
“I am not Gozitan but Gozo fascinates me for its uniqueness not just as a destination but also as a region with its very own peculiar needs and the potential it holds when it comes to introducing technologies that can help its people in their everyday life. We will be bringing many AI-related technologies that help the farming industry, the health sector, traffic management such as smart parking, education and even technology that enhances the cultural experience of those who visit Gozo.”
Kyle Anastasi, Account Technology Strategist at Microsoft Malta said that when the idea of a Gozo Innovation Hub was floated, the idea was enticing straight away and both Microsoft and J2 Group started discussing the way forward to see how best the MIC experience could be adapted to Gozo and its communities.
“The Microsoft Innovation Centre located at Skyparks in Luqa was launched six years ago and has been a huge success, bringing together businesses, start-ups and those involved in education to learn more about the evolution of newer technologies such as cloud computing, big data, blockchain, igaming, AI and virtual reality,” he said.
“In Malta, the MIC has been acknowledged for its constant growth and increased role in Malta’s IT ecosystem especially having hosted and mentored over 180 technology start-ups, trained hundreds of teachers and exposed thousands of students to technology and the new employment opportunities it offers. Together with our partners J2 Group, we now hope to replicate this level of success here at this new Gozo Innovation Hub,” concluded Kyle Anastasi.