In recent years, Malaysia has developed from a supplier of raw materials into an industrial nation and aspires to create an economy with high average incomes. Malaysian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face the challenge of conducting research and development with comparatively few resources in order to meet current and future customer requirements and to compete in the market. Together with SIRIM, Fraunhofer IAO is working on a joint project to support the innovative capabilities and productivity of Malaysian SMEs.
Various support activities for Malaysian SMEs
Headed up by Fraunhofer IAO the project helps Malaysian SMEs to identify relevant trends and business opportunities, develop new technologies and implement successful solutions. “Together with SIRIM, we’ve organized numerous activities and so far we’ve received positive feedback from industry,” says Liza Wohlfart from Fraunhofer IAO. Specifically, the project includes four areas of support for small and medium-sized enterprises.
- Create a study about innovation management in Malaysian SMEs
- Carry out technology audits
- Organize innovation workshops
- Establish industrial centers of innovation
A written survey about the state of innovation management in Malaysian SMEs has already been completed. The Fraunhofer and SIRIM researchers are currently in the process of evaluating the results and will complement these with SME success stories compiled on the basis of interviews. As part of the project, some 70 SIRIM employees were trained as technology auditors. Several audits designed to help companies better identify and develop their own position in the market and individual possibilities for improvement have already been carried out. By the end of the year, around 150 SMEs are expected to have participated. Other activities related to the project have been received positively as well: A seminar in October for improving the productivity and growth of SMEs was attended by more than 180 participants from industry and research. The focus was on facilitating an exchange of international experience based on success stories from innovative SMEs, which was underscored by presentations by speakers from Germany and Australia.
Upcoming innovation workshops and industrial centers of innovation
In the final project phase, innovation workshops will take place at the end of the year. As part of the practical training, SMEs learn simple methods related to technology and ideas management, supported by case studies from European companies. As part of the cooperation between Fraunhofer IAO and SIRIM, industrial centers of innovation – based on the successful model of Fraunhofer Institutes– are also to be established, which will support SMEs through pooled competencies in selected technologies. The German-Malaysian research partnership has developed the conceptual cornerstones and is now focused on selecting suitable topics and teams. The designation of the first pilot centers is set for spring 2016.
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