Gov’t upgrades support to MSMEs via SETUP amid pandemic, new technologies

The government has upgraded services of its program assisting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to enhance competitiveness based on their level of development considering the rapid emergence of Industry 4.0 and the debilitating effects of the pandemic.

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said that under the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) 4.0, the department’s interventions will now not only benefit the individual firms.

“We will also be providing industry level interventions, making sure that each industry under our priority sectors is following a set roadmap that is directed towards transitioning to the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” he said during the DOST-National Capital Region SETUP e-caravan.

De la Peña said MSMEs will be categorized based on their development level, and the assistance the DOST will provide them will be based on their category.

“The more developed MSMEs will be ushered towards Industry 4.0 while the rest will be assisted such that they will be prepared to transition to the same in the near future,” he added.

DOST-VI Regional Director Engr. Rowen Gelonga said enterprise level strategies under SETUP 4.0 include providing access to new technologies and innovations; delivering technical, digital and other critical support; and ensuring enterprise resiliency and continuity.

“Our one special focus at the SETUP 4.0 is that irrespective of the level of development of your company, we will try to come up with digitalization or digitization as well as digitalization support. And of course we are giving special emphasis also in terms of resiliency and continuity and we know how important this is during times not only of pandemic but in times of hazards and other calamities,” he said.

Gelonga said the government will provide assistance based on the category of the MSMEs which include developing enterprise (stage 1), growing enterprise (stage 2), and expanding and innovating enterprise (stage 3).

“Because before, it was like ‘one size fits all’. The tool in assisting MSMEs, like for food safety compliance, that will be used for a micro enterprise employing two to three employees will also be the same tool for medium-sized enterprises employing 170 employees. So the strategy now of DOST is to calibrate the response according to the level of growth,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.

Gelonga said the majority of micro and medium enterprises are at the levels of stages 1 and 2.

“However, we also have enterprises particularly in the more developed regions and parts of the country that can be considered already under expanding and innovating enterprises. We will give them focus so that they can really move up higher in the value chain by adopting higher level technologies,” he added.

Gelonga said industry level strategies, on the other hand, include pivoting MSMEs towards supporting sustainable economy, strengthening market competence and participation in supply chains, upskilling competency of human capital, and providing needed innovation infrastructure to foster industry development.

“Under the SETUP 4.0 is the recalibration in terms of the prioritization of our focused sectors. So because of the Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, among the sectors that we are now giving a lot of attention is the health and wellness sector,” he said.

Gelonga further said specialized centers, strategic roadmapping activities, and other industry level science and technology and innovation assistance will “allow us to build a very robust industry where the individual MSMEs are part of.”

He said the department will implement SETUP 4.0 over the period 2021-2030 while still adapting the perspective of SETUP 2.0 but incorporating “new realities in the ground” which include the pandemic and Industry 4.0.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has radically changed the world in a very short time. Business and industry have been impacted heavily by the pandemic in many ways –shifts in consumer buying preferences, decreased mobility of people, changes in manufacturing operations, disruption of supply chains and the very significant contraction of the economy, among many others,” he added.

Gelonga said SETUP 2.0 implemented in 2018-2020 built on the gains and accomplishments of the original SETUP enhancing the competitiveness of MSMEs through the provision of science and technology (S&T) interventions.

SETUP over the period 2002-2017 provided a wide range of S&T solutions — technology transfer and commercialization; consultancy services such as productivity improvement, food safety, energy audit and cleaner production; packaging assistance; technology training; laboratory and testing services; and innovation fund, he said.

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