Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) face multiple challenges in innovating their service offerings and products. Bureaucracy, limited financial resources to promote services, products and technologies, limited human resources for sales and marketing activities, and limited resources to engineer products ready to market, limited digital capabilities are the main challenges.
In Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Canada, and USA, the “enterprise cluster” model is emerging as a concept for more effective growth and sustainability of high tech SMEs.
In those clusters, there are central organization, sometime private and sometime public, that have deployed a multi-dimensional capability model to successfully support innovation and growth of the SMEs. Key services deployed by those clusters are:
Fund management to support the development and growth of SMEs. Several levers are used to support funding. Major tools deployed for the SMEs are government grants and favorable loans, network of private equities and venture capitals.
Collaboration between research centers and industry. Most of the clusters have developed partnership between universities and innovative companies to boost innovation and create new products.
Incubator and industrial policies aiming at sector restructuring or establishing new sectors. Some governments have deployed accelerators and incubators to support with funds and capabilities the local SMEs. In some cases, government have deployed rules like buy national to support the local industry.
Value added services and facilities to support SME development (e.g. providers of business services, building/management of labs). Within the cluster, there are network of accountants, consultants, IT experts that provide services to SMEs at favorable prices, but also one stop shop government services.
Support the promotion and marketing of products and services of the cluster at national and international level. SMEs belonging to the cluster also combine the marketing expeditors and coordinate participation to trade events, organization of local events.
In Saudi Arabia, supporting organization has almost tripled in the past five years to reach 36 between 2011 and 2015, this includes accelerators, incubators, co-working space and funds according to Wamda Research Labs report.
Serviis is a virtual market place which aims at addressing some of the SMEs’ challenges, including addressing the digital gap by providing a digital profile for the SME, optimizing SMEs’ sales and marketing effort and costs by connecting SMEs with potential customers, support in recruiting professionals through the Serviis platform.