On Sunday 10 September, APEC SME week kickoff with the “APEC SME O2O Forum—SMEs, Tech Startups, Young Entrepreneurs” organised by Chinese Taipei with partner economy Viet Nam, engaging with policy makers, representatives of APEC economies, start-up owners and other key stakeholders to share experiences on utilizing digital technology to accelerate business growth and strengthening the cooperation among SMEs in APEC region.

“The second phase of O2O initiative aims to foster innovative growth for 3 target groups, including SMEs, tech startups and young entrepreneurs, help them gain a sound grasp of the O2O model and relevant trends through the introduction of the 4 main innovative application areas, including mobile commerce, sharing economy, Internet of Things, Next Generation Innovation,” said Deputy Director General Ms. Pei-Ti Hu, Small and Medium Enterprise Administration (SMEA) of Chinese Taipei.

“Moreover, 6 serial events held in 5 important APEC cities—Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Kaohsiung, Ho Chi Minh City and Manila. It is hoped that such cooperative efforts can help generate a better environment for APEC SMEs to grow and prosper in the digital era,” continued Deputy Director General Hu, expressing her appreciation for the supports and contribution devoted by APEC member economies and stressing the importance of cooperation to the implementation of APEC O2O initiatives.

The forum began with opening remarks delivered by Deputy Director General Ms. Pei-Ti Hu, Mr. Jerry Clavesillas, Director of Bureau of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Department of Trade and Industry of the Philippines, and Ms. Nguyen Thanh Lê, Director of International Cooperation Division, Agency for Enterprise Development, Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Ms. Deborah Magid, Director of Software Strategy of IBM Venture Capital Group, delivered the keynote speech titled “Startups and SMEs:Is There a Difference?” emphasize the difference between start-up, SME, and to the need to embed the starup development strategy into policy frameworks.

The rest of the forum was organized in 3 sessions, including 2 panel discussions, a 30-minute talk on APEC Innovation Study given by Mr. Volker Heistermann, Managing Director of Yushan Ventures, and ended with the last session as “APEC O2O Board Meeting”.
Start-ups and SMEs teams were invited to make presentations to the APEC SME O2O Board with the purpose of preparing them to present the product they have developed to investors, and to share how they have remained successful in the global market by utilizing O2O strategies.
Two innovative startups based in Chinese Taipei, Taiwan Taxi and MikroRec, the award winner of the 2017 APEC O2O Summit, joined in the last session with Home8 from the United States, and other teams from Viet Nam Hong Kong, Chile, the Philippines, Thailand, Russia.

Enhancing Digital Resilience and Competitiveness for SMEs
Digital market is expected to grow 11% over next five years to 2020, indicated by a research of APEC PSU. However, the lack of awareness and capability of digital security make SMEs the “sweet-spot” for cyber attackers and cause the global supply chains disruptions. According to statistics presented by McKinsey Global Institute, the ultimate impact could be as much as $3 trillion in lost productivity and growth by 2020.

Therefore, in 2018, Chinese Taipei will implement the third phase of “O2O initiative—Unleash the Potential of SMEs through Digital Transformation for a Shared Future,” continuing to play a leading role in exploring and addressing challenges and issues facing SMEs in the digital era, deepening cooperation among ASEAN countries, and pushing the New Southbound Policy with a more effective approach.