The foundation aims to match SMEs with the right expertise to solve specific challenges.
STEINBEIS Malaysia Foundation and University of Malaya (UM) jointly organised a One-on-One Consultancy Programme to help SMEs tackle questions and issues they face on industrial certifications.
The workshop, held recently at UM, garnered the participation of 44 companies from various sectors seeking advice from academia and non-academia experts to grow their venture further.
The workshop was held following the foundation’s ongoing engagement with SMEs over the past two years, which has found that the majority of the companies face both operational and technical challenges in growing their businesses.
“Even though SMEs have big plans to expand their operations, most of them still have difficulties acquiring specific industrial certifications such as Halal, GMP, HACCP and ISO 9001.
“With limited resources, time and manpower, they do not have the necessary capacity to explore the possibility of acquiring these certifications so they do not know where and how to start.
“As such, the programme enables SMEs to have a personalised session to engage with proven industrial consultants regarding their respective certification,” says Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) chief executive office Datuk Mark Rozario.
For most SMEs and startups, obtaining industrial certifications may not be priority for them, particularly in the initial phase of their business. It is more important for them, at that point, to stabilise their businesses and achieve profitability.
“But as the company grows bigger and business demand escalates, that is when the companies need to understand the necessity of acquiring these certifications, more so when they are expanding into overseas markets,” he adds.
During the workshop, each company was given a 30-minute personalised consultancy session to address individual concerns on certifications and the technical or non-technical issues faced by their respective businesses.
Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation executive director Dr Abdul Reezal Abdul Latif notes that most companies have good products but face challenges in meeting standard requirements to expand into hypermarkets or export to other parts of the globe.
“For instance, the product’s packaging may not be up to mark and this is where we come in to help them get to the next level.
“It is more about SMEs coming to us with their specific problems and we will match them with an expert with the right knowledge to guide them,” says Abdul Reezal.
Under the on-going One-on-One Consultancy Programme initiative this year, Steinbeis has lined up several programmes related to medical devices, export readiness, capability development (industrial certification) and IPO readiness.
To date, about 150 companies have participated in the One-on-One Consultancy Programme with 60% of them from the food manufacturing industry.
UM is the oldest and one of the most successful universities in Malaysia. It is one of five research universities in the country.
Rozario emphasises that the tie-up allows the foundation to leverage on the university’s strong capacity in research and development as well as its intellectual workforce of researchers.
“Similar to other research universities in Malaysia, UM has a strong connection with both the industry’s big corporations and SMEs whereby industry participants get to interact with experts with proven track records as well as sound knowledge and experience of industry dynamics,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation signed a MoU with Innovation and Technology Managers Association Malaysia (ITMA), marking a new collaboration to leverage on the wide network of subject matter experts that the association has.
“There is a large and still untapped bank of knowledge awaiting transformation into market-ready products and services and we have a wealth of intellectual property being churned out by our local academia that often never reach commercialisation.
“This collaboration will allow locally-generated intellectual property to be translated into revenue generating vehicles for the Malaysian economy through the application of academic research to solve real industry problems.
“Pooling and utilising currently available resources in the form of government agencies and technology transfer associations is in line with the Government’s call to work across boundaries, breaking organisational silos,” says Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.
Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation is a non-profit initiative of AIM, a statutory body established by the Government to jumpstart wealth creation through knowledge, technology and innovation whilst stimulating and developing the innovation ecosystem in the country towards achieving Vision 2020.
Launched in August 2014, Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation provides an industry-focused platform to stimulate industry-academia collaboration from a market-driven perspective.
Since 2015, the foundation has carried out more than 120 projects with local SMEs.
The foundation is based on Steinbeis Foundation of Germany’s proven method of collaboration between academia and SMEs, and has presence in about 50 countries worldwide.
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