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Time to spend money on research and development – Mr Hua Wee
06
Jun '09
“If you build it, they will come,” say guests of the APEC SME Technology Entrepreneur Seminar.

The economic landscape has incurred some dramatic changes: budget cuts, climate change, social and demographic shifts pose a new set of challenges. However, say industry experts, for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are able to adapt, such changes offer a wealth of opportunities:

• Perhaps counter-intuitively, established players insist that now is the time to spend money on research and development. According to Choo Hua Wee, Director of Corporate Affairs, Microsoft will invest 9 billion in research and development in 2009 – a billion more than the previous year.

• Open innovation is key to advances in technology. Gone are the days when companies angled to attract the best and the brightest and used patents and copyrights to keep everyone else away, explains Robert Kramer, Vice President of Public Policy at Comp TIA: “Intellectual Property Right isn't just a means of protection; it's a bargaining chip.” External research is as important as internal research and ideas are regularly bought and sold.

• Challenges associated with demographic shift and climate change will demand solutions. BYD, the Chinese Hybrid/Electric Car Company in which Warren Buffet invested last year, will launch the Pure EV-e6 “rechargeable car” in China by the end of 2009.

• Outsourcing auxiliary tasks allows companies to concentrate on their core business.

• The convenience of technology allows small businesses to operate with very little overhead. Explains Ryan Brock of AMI Partners, “like everyone, SMEs have had to do more with less.” Technology makes business more efficient and frees up time for maintaining good client relationships.

• Technology offers an alternative means of export – a largely untapped arena for SMEs. Steven Liew, Director of Government Relations, eBay Asia Pacific points out: “1.3 million sellers use eBay as their primary or secondary source of income; and of these sellers, 530,000 operate standalone stores on eBay.”

The seminar, which drew members of the SME community as well as large corporate representatives from organizations including Microsoft, Dell, PayPal/eBay, and BYD, has issued a set of recommendations to the APEC SME Working Group. The Working Group is responsible to APEC's senior officials, whose work is instrumental in shaping public policy throughout the APEC region.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

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