Brussels, 17 May 2004
Turkey's Minister for Industry and Trade, Ali Coskun, was in Brussels on 17 May to present the aims of a forthcoming OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) ministerial conference on small businesses, entrepreneurship and globalisation, to take place in Istanbul from 3 to 5 June. One of Turkey's aims, explained the minister, is to obtain the political support of the OECD for a proposal intended to foster innovation and network-building - the 'Regional emerging markets technology transfer network' (REMTECH) initiative.
There are over 50 million small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the world, but only 15,000 to 20,000 are working at an international level, explained Mr Coskun. 'Today we are operating in a mobile and virtual environment, where innovation and clusters are the most important thing [for ensuring the competitiveness of SMEs],' he continued.
It was with this in mind that the REMTECH initiative was conceived. The project would see the creation of a network of networks. Each network would bring together multiple stakeholders from specific industrial sectors that are of particular relevance to the participating countries and SMEs. Turkey proposes that the pilot project should start within the automotive component suppliers industry.
Integrated into the network would be existing regional clusters, incubators and technology transfer centres, research and innovation centres, university researchers and national public authorities. This, according to the project concept paper, would result in an avoidance of duplication, improve the industrial competitiveness and productivity of regional emerging markets through technology transfer, and foster the generation of global markets through the exchange of practice.
'SMEs cannot stay as local powers as this will prevent them from being competitive,' said Mr Coskun.
Governments have a key role to play in supporting SMEs, claimed the minister. They should offer incentives to encourage the take-up of information and communication technologies, which he described as 'compulsory nowadays'. Mr Coskun also called on governments to use legislation to develop a risk culture, and to ensure investment in human capital.
These appeals were supported by OECD Deputy Secretary-General, Herwig Schlögl, who said that '95 per cent of entrepreneurial activity is carried out by SMEs, but there is still a lack of policy awareness of how SMEs can contribute to the economy.
The forthcoming OECD ministerial meeting will see an exchange of views on providing SMEs with access to those things which will ensure they are able to survive in a global economy: ICT; financing, including international financing; research results; e-commerce.
Promoting entrepreneurship and innovative SMEs in a global economy is clearly recognised as a priority across the world. In addition to the 30 Member countries of the OECD, 30 other countries have already confirmed that they will be sending a delegate to Istanbul at either ministerial or deputy ministerial level.
For further information on the forthcoming conference, please visit: