Promoting Lean Innovation for SMEs: A Mexican Case

Promoting Lean Innovation for SMEs: A Mexican Case

José Luis Solleiro, Rosario Castañón, Claudia Gaona
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0135-0.ch007
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In Mexican SMEs the IDB, COMECYT and CONACYT have sponsored innovation. Target firms belong to priority manufacturing and service sectors and they have been supported through providing technical assistance to generating technology-development projects and innovation-based networks as well as matching funds for those projects. Over 150 Mexican SMEs participated in this effort in the period 2011-2013 to build and implement innovation agendas with the assistance of innovation managers. This paper includes an analysis of participating firms, their perceived technology needs, their openness to collaborate with actors of the innovation system and their abilities to identify goals, formulate proposals and implement specific projects. The conclusion is that success of innovation policies in developing countries is highly dependent on previous experience and learning abilities of firms. Finally, some recommendations are drawn for building capacities at the firm level as well as for strengthening innovation policies aimed at involving and technologically upgrading SMEs.
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Previous work has shown that the support given to small and medium-size enterprises in as far as capacity building is concerned results in a better competitive performance (Dini et al., 2007; ECLAC, 2010; ECLAC – IDB – OAS, 2011). This is a strong statement for the promotion of innovation in this kind of firms.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Technological Development: The systematic use of scientific, technical, economic and commercial knowledge to meet specific business objectives or requirements.

Technology Manager or Broker: Persons or organizations that, from a relatively impartial third-party position, purposefully catalyze innovation through bringing together actors and facilitating their interaction.

Innovation Agenda: A planning tool to define specific goals and initiatives, based on a participatory process whose outcomes include a clear diagnosis of the region’s internal innovation condition; a shared understanding of innovation goals for priority sectors; identification of the most critical opportunity areas; and knowledge of the capabilities, assets and partnerships needed for success.

Innovation System: Frameworks for understanding innovation based on the analysis of the interaction between different social actors who are needed in order to turn an idea into a process, product or service on the market. Innovation systems are the determinants of innovation processes and the innovations themselves.

Innovation: Innovation. Something new or improved, having marketable potential, including (1) development of new applications for existing technologies, (2) refinement of existing technologies, or (3) development of new applications for existing technologies.

State of Mexico: One of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federal entities of Mexico. It is the most populous, as well as the most densely populated state.

Innovation Policy: Combined actions that are undertaken by public organizations that influence innovation processes. The ultimate objectives of innovation policy are concerned with influencing the consequences that innovations have for socio-economic and political matters such as economic growth and the environment

Small and Medium Sized Enterprise (SME): In Mexico, the official classification of industrial firms is based on two criteria: number of employees and amount of annual sales. Following formula is applied to establish the limits for each classification. Combined limit=(number of employees)x10% + (annual sales)x90% Based on that formula, a manufacturing micro enterprise has a limit of 4.6 (up to 10 employees and up to 4 million pesos of sales –around U$300,000; a small one has a combined limit of 95 (11-50 employees and 4.01-100 million pesos of sales- U$300,000-U$7 million); and a medium sized up to a combined limit of 250(51-250 employees and 100-250 million pesos of sales- U$7 million- U$18 million).

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