SME Corp Malaysia Bhd calls on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to adopt a culture of innovation and boost research and development (R&D) spending in their companies in order to be competitive.

“We want see more Malaysian companies going into innovative culture and more funds being crafted out for R&D spending,” its CEO Datuk Hafsah Hashim told reporters after the presentation of 1-Innovative Certification for Enterprise Rating and Transformation (1-InnoCERT) certification here yesterday.

Today, R&D spending in Malaysia by SMEs is about 0.06% compared with over 10% by Korean SMEs.

Hafsah said SMEs will be able to see the multiple effects coming through after putting in place innovative effort in their companies.

She said SME Corp has adopted the Korean model called InnoBiz, which started in 2001 where over 15,000 Korean companies are InnoBiz-certified.

“There have been improvement in terms of profit, business performance, employment opportunities and R&D expenditure,” she said.

“Since the introduction of the 1-InnoCERT, from the perspective of SMEs, they have progressed reasonably well. From the beginning, we have created awareness of companies to come forward. We have seen the emergence of innovative companies,” she said.

Over the last four years, 166 companies are now 1-InnoCERT-certified and these companies have gone through stringent process of auditing and evaluation conducted by Sirim QAS International Sdn Bhd.

SME Corp chairman Datuk Mohamed Al Amin Abdul Majid (pix) said the 1-InnoCERT programme has endeavoured to provide various types of assistance to promote the certified companies.

The benefits of the 1-InnoCERT programme include the Green Lane Policy where SMEs certified under the programme are given priority access to government procurement, financial assistance, tax incentives and customised facilitation.

Through the Green Lane Policy, Mohamed Al Amin said SME Corp, in collaboration with Bank Negara Malaysia and Association of Banks Malaysia, has provided an avenue for 1-InnoCERT companies to pitch their proposals to banks for financial assistance.

To date, RM6 million has been approved under the collaboration effort.

“We will continue to work together with the 1-InnoCERT companies to further strengthen and facilitate their growth,” he said.

He added that many of them have accessed new markets, hired more employees with high value expertise and expanded their operations overseas.