Small businesses have always driven economic growth worldwide, but in today’s digital economy, startups and micro-, small-, and medium-sized businesses (MSMEs) are more important than ever.
The ability of MSMEs to nimbly serve the precise needs of local populations is critical to driving the innovation needed to meet rapidly shifting market demands. They are also essential partners in the global effort to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
As the UN specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs), we are pleased to join the celebrations for MSME Day today. And we fully support the goal to encourage Member States to facilitate observance of the day by increasing awareness and actions to support small business.
MSMEs are a source of new ideas and innovation, and often account for a significant proportion of the economy in developing countries.
Now more than ever, we need the expertise, innovation and investment of SMEs.
That’s why ITU Member States recently decided to encourage SMEs to participate as Associates in the Sectors of the ITU, with reduced fees.
The reduced fee option for SMEs will be made available as of January 2020. In addition, an ongoing SME pilot project will continue until this time.
As part of a the pilot project, SMEs have been invited to participate in several ITU Study Groups on a range of issues from building smart cities to leveraging tech to improve the environment to creating an enabling environment for ICT development.
Here are examples of the valuable input by SMEs so far:
Given that so much technological innovation comes from MSMEs, it’s worth noting that ITU’s Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy allows for the possibility of member’s technology to be included in an ITU standard even if the member has a related patent on it, provided the member declares that it would be licenced on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.
We look forward to continued valuable input from SMEs as they become ever more ingrained in the work of ITU.