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SCED's speech at opening ceremony of World SME Expo and Inno Design Tech Expo (English only) (with photo)

     Following is a speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, at the opening ceremony of World SME Expo and Inno Design Tech Expo today (December 10):

Fred (Lam), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning.  I am pleased to officiate at the opening of the World SME Expo and Inno Design Tech Expo today.

     The TDC has been good at bringing us joint events.  Last time they paired up an electronics fair for the masses with the Electronics Asia event for the geeks.  And earlier they held the ICT and electronics fairs under the same roof.  These were good combinations.  But could SMEs and innovation and technologies be a perfect match?  Did TDC pick the right groom for the bride this time?

     I am sure TDC has made no mistake.  With both commerce and innovation falling under my portfolio, I cannot highlight any further the intimate connection between the two.  Let me share with you some figures.  Around 4,700 enterprises carried out technological and product innovation in 2007, among which more than 4,200 are SMEs.  More importantly, for these enterprises, the contribution of technological and product innovation to a small enterpriseˇ¦s revenue was almost 30% on average.  The same figure was 24% for a medium enterprise and 10% for a large enterprise.  So does it need to be big for embarking on an innovative journey?  No.  Small is agile enough for the race.

     If you take a tour around the expo venue and meet the exhibitors, I am sure there are abundant real world cases to inspire you.  The Government has all along been supportive of innovation activities by SMEs as well.  Learn about the Small Enterprise Research Assistance Programme, the technology and design incubation programmes, and the Design-Business Collaboration Scheme for SMEs under the DesignSmart Initiative from representatives of our Innovation and Technology Commission.  You may also want your trade association to learn about the SME Development Fund of the Trade and Industry Department.

     No doubt some SMEs today may find themselves in difficult times and looking for more help from the Government.  We have heard the call and are prepared to do more.  On Monday we announced our proposal for scaling up the Special Loan Guarantee Scheme for SMEs to provide $100 billion in liquidity to the commercial lending market.  Under the scaled-up scheme, each qualified company may borrow up to $6 million, half of which can be in the form of revolving loans.  The Government will back up 70% of the loans.  The scaled-up scheme, if approved by the legislature, will surely be of help to local enterprises in dire need of credit facilities to keep their businesses up and running.  It also signifies our commitment to help our SMEs, which constitute 98% of business establishments in Hong Kong and 50% of the employment in the private sector.

     The Trade and Industry Department also runs a centre called SUCCESS to help you out.  SUCCESS provides a comprehensive range of consultation and information services to SMEs.  It organises and supports about 100 seminars, workshops and other activities every year to help broaden your business knowledge and enhance your entrepreneurial skills.  The cost?  They are free of charge.  So the only thing you have to do is to sign up quickly.

     Donˇ¦t forget to take advantage of other events that the TDC has organised.  There are seminars on new markets, SME forums, and also the Dutch Day for showcasing the achievements of the creative sector in the Netherlands.  Be prepared to encounter new ideas and meet new business partners.  I hope you will leave here today with exciting thoughts and pursue them with enthusiasm.  

     In closing, please let me congratulate the TDC for bringing us this successful twin event.  I hope you will find your day here enjoyable and rewarding.

     Thank you.

Ends/Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Issued at HKT 11:33


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