In 2014 I worked with Productivity Alberta and GO Productivity to design and develop an advanced program focused on the critical question “…why are so many SMEs unable to - or uninterested in - or fail at - establishing and sustaining an innovation program…?
After all, SMEs play a critical role in both economic development and as innovators, as they make up about 90% of all firms worldwide (OECD). Perhaps most importantly, SMEs have some significant advantages over large firms due to their size:
- They have strong relationships with both customers and suppliers that can enable them to act more quickly to changing business environments and market needs,
- They have shorter lines of internal communication, and many have a strong entrepreneurial management style, and
- Studies have shown that the technical capabilities of employees in SMEs are in many cases higher than those in large companies, allowing for faster and less expensive innovation.
However there are also studies that show that only a small number of SMEs use these size advantages for innovation, growth and increased competitiveness. The program addresses the many reasons and issues for SMEs that lead to this inaction – and our research shows that SMEs worldwide face many of the same roadblocks to innovation. Links follow:
You can read about the program in a paper (GFCC Paper Final) published by the Global Federation on Competitiveness Council (GFCC) in their 2014 Regional Innovation: Best Practices in Competitiveness Strategy program, presented at their 2014 2014 Global Innovation Summit and Annual Meeting of the GFCC in Banff, Alberta on December 11-13, 2014.
The paper identifies the many issues and problems facing SMEs and innovation, and how the program addresses them.
 Industry Canada classifies SMEs as: Small = 1 - 99 paid employees, and Medium = 100 - 499 paid employees.