The National Productivity Organization (NPO) of the Philippines implemented the project entitled: Capability Building on Promoting Innovation for Competitiveness of SMEs in the Service and Industry Sectors as a result of the deputation of the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) expert Mr. Ab. Rahim Yussof last December 5 to 9, 2011. The project was designed to orient managers of SMEs from local and exporting markets, SME support institutions and the NPO on current trends and success stories in promoting innovation among SMEs in the services and industry sectors in selected countries in Asia, North America and Europe.
In the course of five (5) days, the APO expert conducted a series of innovation orientation at the country’s National Capital Region and Region IV-A (CALABARZON Region) hosted by the NPO in collaboration with the Bureau of Export Trade Promotion (BETP) and the Department of Science and Technology – IV (DOST IV-A). A total of fifty eight (58) representatives of forty seven (47) small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country, with local and international clients, participated in the innovation orientation for SMEs. A total of ninety seven (97) participants from BETP, DOST IV-A and other SME support institutions attended the seminar that introduced innovation and its promotion to SME-support institutions.
The APO Expert’s discussion presented links between QMS and innovation, particularly in the case of SME exporters who are competing globally, and how an innovative culture fosters improved service/product quality. One of the highlights of the sessions is the presentation of the ten types of innovation, examples of Malaysian Service Exports and how the application of Malaysia’s innovation model and interventions from agencies such as the Malaysia Innovation Agency (MIA) and the SME Corp are bringing target sectoral growth. The APO expert also presented cases from South Korea, the USA and Finland. Lectures where complemented with relevant video presentations on innovative approaches implemented by SMEs while a workshops were conducted to determine how the participants perceive innovation and what are the best practices, issues and needs of participants in relation to innovation.
SMEs recognized the importance of innovation in expanding and sustaining growth. Entrepreneurs are willing to use innovative ideas and methodologies as tools for expansion. On the other hand, the turnout of the seminar for SME-support institutions demonstrated that there are different players driving innovation in the Philippines. However, innovation in the country is often related to the DOST due to focus on technology innovation which is part of the department’s mandate.
Though innovation is not only technology innovation, starting with technology innovation can be a good initial direction. To push for innovation in the country, the NPO needs to access the correct information that can drive innovation. The NPO can learn from the approach of the Malaysia Productivity Center (MPC) and other countries that were successful in implementing innovation interventions to SMEs.
One of the immediate activities that the NPO can implement to generate/renew interest and partnerships related to innovation for SMEs is an innovation forum that will target both the public and private sectors. After the engagement of the APO expert, the NPO will explore ways on how to develop and implement its own innovation program for SMEs. Aside from a responsive innovation program for SMEs, one of the key targets of the NPO is to package the innovation program in a way that will inspire innovation among SMEs, SME-support institutions and the public, in general.
CECILIA DE CASTRO
Center for Quality and Competitiveness
Development Academy of the Philippines