Minister for Small Business Brendan O'Connor has met with German business leaders, politicians and senior researchers to discuss ways to encourage innovation and cut red tape for SMEs during a recent two-day visit to Berlin.
In Germany, a business with up to nine staff and an annual turnover of under one million Euro (approximately $A1.2 million) is classified as a small business, while a medium enterprise can have between 10 to 499 staff and turnover of up to 50 million Euros (approximately $A58 million). While both definitions differ from those held locally on our shores, Minister O’Connor says that both countries can learn a lot from each other's experiences in the SME sector.
“Germany’s SME sector is large and dynamic, like Australia’s,” O’Connor said while in Berlin. “I have been particularly interested in [Germany’s] measures to assist SMEs export including market reconnaissance, preparation of market studies and how to structure joint ventures.
“Germany is also focusing on seven policy areas for SME commercial success, including innovation, skilled workers, business start-ups and succession and red tape reduction.”
While at around 82 million, Germany’s population dwarfs that of Australia, the SME sector’s contribution to the economy of each country is similar.
"SMEs represent 99.7 per cent of all German businesses, producing 38 per cent of taxable turnover and accounting for 60 per cent of employment," O’Connor explained.
“Around 96 per cent of Australian businesses are small businesses, providing 46 per cent of private sector employment and contributing 34 per cent of all private sector value added.”
While in Berlin, O’Connor also met with SME financing and innovation expert Professor Alexander Kritikos, who is Research Director into entrepreneurship at the German Institute for Economics Research (DIW).
“Professor Kritikos has carried out extensive research into SME financing and entrepreneurship and I was interested in hearing his views on Germany’s innovation programs,” O’Connor said. “This is a very challenging and interesting time for both our economies. The right policy settings are crucial in both our economies to ensure that small businesses can compete in international markets and continue to grow.”
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