Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Where do our SMEs Hide?

We’ve made progress, haven’t we? We understand how a SME is defined and why they are vital to the economy. SMEs can be tomorrow’s employers, partners, clients, subcontractors… Indeed, they are the main link between us as individual citizens/consumers/workers and “the economy”.

Now, two questions come to mind:

1. Where do the STEM-based SMEs, aka the interesting subset, hide?


2. Why don’t we hear about them more often?

That’s a problem, isn’t it? If we can’t find these SMEs, how can we ever work with, or for, them?

These are all very valid questions and worries. But the real issue is that the questions are not correctly formulated. The first one assumes that the interesting subset is a confidential sector, hidden away in a corner of “the economy”. The second assumes that we don’t hear about them.

Both are wrong assumptions.

To start with, the category what we, STEM graduates and professionals, look for, doesn’t exist as such. In the UK, they are part of the “professional, scientific, and technical activities”, which accounts for about 15% of all SMEs. It is almost worse in the EU, because the sectors are more traditionally arranged (aeronautics, transport, energy, construction, cosmetics etc). I expect that the ratio is about similar in the EU, but I am still hunting those numbers.

When we know where to look for, we hear about physics-based SMEs a lot. A hint? Think specialization.

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