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Small Medium Enterprise (SME) Cluster

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The SME Assist concept was formulated in August 2009 in line with the philosophy of university-industry engagement. Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are important economic driving force in many countries. Previous researches show that efforts taken by various parties and governments of different countries have helped improve and transform SMEs to be competitive in the fast changing global economy. In Malaysia, there are different models or approaches adopted and implemented by various parties. However, competitiveness of SME  remains an issue of concern. Under its new philosophy of university-industry engagement, researchers at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), begun to look into the issue and experimenting with a model to help accelerate the transformation of local SMEs. A model, dubbed as SME Assist is in the stage of actual application and concurrent research is conducted in order to strengthen the competitive capability of local SMEs in three different phases . The model is based on the findings that the sustainable growth of SMEs is held back by four major challenges such as ICT, marketing, finance and skill of knowledge. The concept of the model is to develop a low cost engagement application research team that continues to engage with the industries’ This is to strengthen the four major weaknesses through strategic priority and through leveraging and structuring the motivation, strength and weaknesses of various stakeholders. In the process of engagement, the short term and long term needs of the industries will be addressed. The knowledge gained from the process of engagement will be extracted, re-used and improved.


SME Assist Cluster matches the knowledge, expertise, facilities and resources of the University to the needs, aspirations and expectations of the industry. SME Assist helps to develop and enhance the competency of SMEs/SMIs via knowledge transfer and at the same time nurture the future workforce with relevant skills through active collaboration with industries.


To develop a least cost knowledge-skill transfer and continuous improvement mechanisms to assist the SMEs/SMIs and at the same time, enhance students’ employability.


The SME Assist team is currently capitalising on the transfer of knowledge by developing a network of current and retired practitioners and entrepreneurs together with the academic staff and students from USM to assist the SMEs/SMIs. To achieve this goal, the principal agent is the retirees who have vast experience and network with the industry. There are many studies emphasising trust as one of the best practices in business deals. With regards to this, relationship that has been established over the years between the retirees [from multinational companies (MNCs)] and SMEs (contract manufacturers) is the key to approach SMEs.


  • To develop and utilise a least-cost skilled, knowledge transfer and continuous improvement mechanism to collaborate with SMEs.
  • To strengthen the competitive capability of local SMEs at the national and global arenas.
  • To train our students to be solution-led, creative and innovative to enhance their competitiveness and employability.

Services Available

•    Initial assessment of the needs of SMEs/SMIs.
•    Knowledge and technology transfer.
•    Develop customised training modules.
•    Training and short courses
      -    Innovation & Engineering
      -    Business Management
      -    Quality Inspection
      -    Information Technology
•    Continuous support through student attachment/Student Internship Programme (SIP).
•    Joint research collaborations.


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Division of Industry and Community Network
Level 1, Chancellory II, Building E42
Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 USM, Penang

Tel :+604 - 653 2902 / 6413  |  Fax :+604 - 653 2903 / 6406  |   Email: dvc_icn@usm.my