Week in Review: Using crowdsourcing to solve SME problems

  • Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation aims to live up to ‘Stand By You’ motto for industry
  • Digerati50 for 2018-2019 period identified with 50 inspiring stories

ONE interesting programme under Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) is its Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation, an initiative modeled after the reknown German-based Steinbeis Institute that is credited with Germany’s prowess as a SME powerhouse.

Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation acts as a trusted party to help match subject matter experts (SMX) from academia and private sector, to companies, especially SMEs, that need help solving technical, management and business model problems they have.

I first wrote about the work Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation was doing in May 2016. Since its 2015 launch it has helped match 400 companies, mainly SMEs but some larger companies as well.

But it has lost way more companies, who at the last minute, pull out from working with a SMX because they don’t want to pay for the services and decide to look around for other government programmes that can help them for free. The 400 SMEs that have been helped so far have paid between RM20,000 to RM100,000 for the assistance they got to solve their particular problems.

While this shows that forward thinking and innovative SMEs that wish to be winners will gladly pay for help that allows them to be more competitive, too many SMEs drop off their engagement when it comes time to pay, this even after signing a contract. Cash flow is always used as the excuse here.

But with SMEs being a critical economic pillar of a nation’s competitiveness, Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation, is powering ahead in its efforts to clearly show to SMEs that it can help them and that the cost of engagement is worth paying for.

Its new Steinbeis SMX Solutions Program is seeking to tap the power of crowdsourcing to help 100 SMEs with a cash prize of RM10,000 going to each SMX who can come up with solutions to the problems that Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation will post on its site on a regular basis. That’s a total prize money of US$256,000 (RM1 million) with 50% coming from Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation with the rest from the SMEs. The programme ends when 100 SME problems have been matched with solutions with the SMEs deciding for themselves which SMX solution they felt had the best chance of solving their problems.  

Because the amount of RM10,000 is relatively small, Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation tells me that the solutions here can be in the form of ideation with the next round of engagement being where the ideation will be applied to actually solve the SME problem. At this next stage, the actual solution cost, which could range up RM100,000, will again be borne on a 50:50 basis by Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation and the SMEs.

Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation will do a review of the programme with an eye to making next year’s programme even better.

Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation has two main hopes here. Firstly, that the headline grabbing US$256,000 total cash prize will help create greater public awareness of its activities and impact. Secondly, that more SMX from areas other than E&E manufacturing will offer their expertise as past experience has shown that cross vertical experience and expertise can be applied to create innovative solutions.

And this is what I will be looking at – how quickly SMX come forward, especially from non-E&E verticals to solve the 100 challenges.  Because the quicker the problems get solved, the louder the word of mouth buzz will be from the SME that have been helped. And, this will trigger more SMEs to start relying on Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation to help them and which will allow Steinbeis to live up to its “We Stand By You” motto, with “you” referring to industry.

And finally, last week, I was so excited talking about how Top Glove Bhd was investing to improve its automation that I didn’t have space to mention that the 3rd edition of DNA’s Digerati50 has been published. With a dual print and digital version, you can download the digital version here, thanks to its sponsor, The Center for Applied Data Science, and read 50 amazing stories of our Digerati50 2018-2019 batch, including on the only three-peat Digerati50!

As the headline to my Editor’s Note said, they are all aiming to be winners in the Digital Economy.

With that, I hope you had a restful weekend and have a productive week ahead.

Editor’s Picks:

Steinbeis Malaysia looking for 100 'gazelles' who want to jump higher

Alibaba Cloud data centre in Indonesia begins operations

Blockchain: creating evolution or revolution in the education sector?

Satisfying the Kravve-ing for home-made snacks

GDPR: A problem you may not know about

Medan's startup players urged to change their mindsets

Aiming to be winners in the Digital Economy

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