Wed, Jul 07, 2010 - Page 12 News List

MOEA promotion scheme helping SMEs update business models and technology

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

If you drop by Hankyu Hanshin Department Stores in Japan and chance to see Irwin mangoes from Taiwan, don’t be surprised to see a package of three mangoes selling for as much as ¥6,300 (US$71).

The mango showcase not only represents the attractiveness of Taiwanese fruit to Japanese, but also a box packaging technology that is made in Taiwan. With this technology, these fruits are arriving at Japanese stores in perfect shape without bruises that could have been incurred during transportation.

“Japanese are highly environmentally cautious and they don’t like us importing Irwin mangoes stuffed with all those spongy materials in the packages,” said Amy Huang (黃惠美), an assistant researcher at the Printing Technology Research Institute (印刷工業技術研究中心).

The institute is one of the government-backed research institutions that have been commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) to help find prospective small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for technological upgrade to boost their competitiveness.

The institute successfully roped in four firms — which include Chen Yi Paper Container Co (誠毅紙器) — to work on the packaging designs where the box’s bottom would cushion any impact during transportation for Irwin mangoes.

Founded in 1957, Kaohsiung-based Chen Yi Paper Container manufactures chipboard pallets, air shipping paper containers, playing cards as well as folding cartons.

The new designs have also helped reduce the use of sponges and assisted these firms in clinching deals with logistic services provider President Transnet Corp (統一速達) to package the mangoes for shipping to Hankyu Hanshin.

“Chen Yi Paper Container has seen a drop in business margins amid rising paper material costs. We assisted it in upgrading its technology to devise new types of cartons or paper boards. These value-added features have helped improve its bottom line,” Huang said.

The results were partly attributed to a NT$5 million (US$155,040) grant from the ministry, where it has a scheme for SMEs to transform and upgrade business models, technology as well as research and development activities.

“These smaller firms shouldn’t have stopped R&D or cut related costs despite a sluggish macro-economy because of the financial crisis last year,” the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

The ministry said it handed out subsidies totaling NT$376 million for SMEs during the first half of this year, having given the green light to 213 applications and roped in more than 6,000 R&D personnel from research institutions and SMEs for the scheme.

The ministry estimated it would grant 1,100 applications by the end of the year with total subsidies reaching NT$1.5 billion. More than 970 applicants received government grants last year, with subsidies totaling NT$1.3 billion.

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