Representatives from European Parliament, SME associations, and SMEs themselves joined experts from Huawei for the second round of Huawei European Innovation Day 2020, held online in Germany. The focus of the event was European Mittelstand – the German word for small and medium-sized enterprises – and how to strengthen their innovation.
"SMEs are the backbone of the European economy," said David Li, President of Huawei West Europe, during his keynote speech. "They are central to the EU's industrial strategy. But there are still huge gaps between SMEs and large enterprises. Gaps in digital strategy, talent, technology, and capability. During the pandemic, the need to go digital has become even more pressing than ever. We want to use ICT to help European SMEs stay competitive. We want to help them go global."
Support from the broader Information and Communications Technology industry is key. In particular, experts discussed the need for a platform that brings SMEs together and enables them to share knowledge, experience, and provide mutual support.
Georgios Kyrtsos, Member of European Parliament and Board Member of SME Europe, a business association that represents the interests of small and medium-sized enterprises, shared his thoughts on challenges that SMEs face throughout their digitalization process:
"Digital and ecological transformation go hand in hand and will shape our economic future. Medium-sized companies are facing a major challenge. They must adapt to a new, highly competitive, globalized, and digitized environment. The digital economy and its major international players can provide the necessary technologies for the digital transformation."
Andreas Keck, the President of German Mittelstand e.V., an organization for connecting and empowering entrepreneurs, spoke about how innovation drives the growth of Mittelstand: "In my opinion, anyone who does not examine the many new options for digitization, at least for himself and his company, is acting negligently, probably even grossly negligent."
Dr. Paul Rübig, Honorary President of SME Europe shared his thoughts: "SMEs are the backbone of the European economic development. 50% of GDP, 2/3 of employees and 80% of Tax paid. They are strong buyers and consumers, as well as innovative players and suppliers in the global value chain."
"Germany's Industry 4.0 has begun to contribute to the digitalization of SMEs," Dr. Michael Opitz, Partner and Head of Arthur D. Little's TIME practice in Central Europe, shared his firm's research on digitalization in Germany. Germany will better utilize its digital manufacturing capabilities by establishing expertise centers in various industries that can help SMEs explore and go digital. The country can also take more actions to facilitate e-government and provide government-backed VC funds for technology start-ups. Germany is developing the relevant technologies, capabilities, and ecosystems, as well as coordinating the efforts of different stakeholders, in order to achieve Industry 4.0.
European Innovation Day 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of Huawei in Europe and its long-standing commitment to supporting digital development across the continent. Although it faces a challenging environment at the moment, Huawei has expressed its unwavering determination to keep serving its customers, keep working with its partners, and keep innovating. Representatives from the company took this opportunity to call for an open and fair business environment to support joint innovation based on shared values and a shared vision for growth.
This article was first published on 3 December by Huawei.