The SME sector is well recognised as a key driver in the ‘engine of the economy’. Frequently you hear Government Ministers and Business Commentators speaking highly of the efforts of our SMEs.
There is no doubt in the UK we have some excellent SMEs, well run and highly innovative. But, they could do so much better.
This is not a criticism of SMEs, rather an indictment of the ‘bigger fish’ who exercise caution to the degree that SMEs suffer.
An example, and these are real experiences through certain clients, ‘ABC Advanced Widgets Ltd’ have developed a must have product that will save ‘Bigus Corporation’ several million pounds/dollars in operating costs. ‘Bigus Corporation’ are impressed, “we will trial your product“. And so they do. Some 18 months of poor monitoring practices (despite precise guidelines from the SME) suggest there may be a benefit, but all is inconclusive. So they bring in a third party to get their views. All this time the SME is waiting. “Will they? Wont they”. All very disconcerting. Now 2 years have gone by.
Then, when all is clear, YES, it really does save ‘Bigus Corporation’ significant money, then it is put over to procurement. The buyer sees this as low priority, and will get round to it soon. And when he finally does he starts looking around at who else can do the same, or what he believes is the same given his/her limited technical knowledge. So, the innovative SME who has done all the work, probably provided his product at no, or minimal cost now finds that they are now in competition, often with an inferior or non compliant product.
The innovative SME now has to defend their position, and clearly demonstrate WHY their product is unique, to someone who probably does not understand the subtleties. The buyer is putting significant price pressure on the SME, after all, he can.
In the meantime, ‘Bigus Corporation’ have missed out on the savings had they adopted the innovation some 18 months prior.
It is clear that the modern day innovative SME must have several strings to their bow. But it is difficult if your innovation is aimed at Nuclear Power processing, as this may not be transferable into other sectors.
Many SMEs could contribute much more if the bigger companies attached more importance to the small innovators. Trials and evaluations are of course important for the large companies, but fast tracking trials could really unleash some real growth in our SME sector, whilst having a positive effect on employment.
The matter is further complicated by Government department procurement policies, and in particular mixed agendas when it comes to Local Government/NHS, and its PFI partners.
Long live our tremendous SMEs and the Innovators within them. To discuss how to get your innovative product or service in front of your target customers talk to one of our experts. They will also tell you about the grants that are available