The New Zealand Government is supporting the growth of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) with an extension on its Regional Business Partner programme.
According to Steven Joyce, Economic Development Minister, and Craig Foss, Small Business Minister, the Government has committed to another five and a half years of support.
Regional Business Partners are local hubs of business development know-how and research and development (R&D) expertise for companies. These hubs foster innovation and success in the SME community.
“Since 2011 almost 10,000 small to medium-sized businesses all over New Zealand have benefited from the programme,” Joyce says.
“The Government is working in partnership with the regions to help more than 5,000 SMEs grow each year.
“This continued investment across New Zealand reflects the Government’s commitment to help SMEs innovate, develop and employ more people. It is also a celebration of the strong partnership between Government and regional providers,” he says.
The network of regional business partners is very effective in reaching a large number of SMEs, according to Foss.
“Of particular value is the work by business advisors who use their local knowledge and links to the business community to work with each business, identifying their development needs and increasing their ability to carry out key activities.
“We are working in partnership across 15 regional areas of New Zealand to offer an integrated one-stop-shop approach to business support. We have also partnered with Business Mentors New Zealand to make their full suite of services available through the Regional Business Partner programme,” he says.
An evaluation completed in April 2015 found that the programme has had a positive impact on the ability of SMEs to manage their businesses and to perform R&D.
A Request for Proposal for 15 new provider contracts to provide information, support, training and advice to SMEs in business performance and innovation was released via GETS on 15 July. The new contracts commence at the beginning of 2016 and all preferred RBP providers have committed to the new partnership.
The Regional Business Partner Network is jointly funded by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Callaghan Innovation.