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Technology upgrading of Small-and-Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) through a manpower secondment strategy – A mixed-methods study of Singapore's T-Up program


  • Ho, Yuen-Ping
  • Ruan, Yi
  • Hang, Chang-Chieh
  • Wong, Poh-Kam


This paper outlines a scheme that uses manpower from public research institutes to assist the technology upgrading of Small-and-Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). The Growing Enterprises through Technology Upgrading (GET-Up) initiative has been successfully implemented in Singapore since 2003. The key program in the initiative is a manpower secondment scheme (i.e. a temporary placement of manpower in a different organization) known as T-Up. We propose that T-Up represents a new approach to technology transfer which additionally maximizes the industrial impact of public sector research. Instead of traditional technology transfer modes which are transactions-based, T-Up utilizes skills and human resource transfer through secondment of public sector researchers. Findings from two surveys conducted in 2005 and 2012 show that the T-Up secondment program had positive impact on the technological capabilities, innovation performance and growth of participating companies. Additionally, case studies highlight that this approach addresses a wide range of challenges faced by local SMEs and is flexible enough to cater to specific needs and requirements.

Suggested Citation

  • Ho, Yuen-Ping & Ruan, Yi & Hang, Chang-Chieh & Wong, Poh-Kam, 2016. "Technology upgrading of Small-and-Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) through a manpower secondment strategy – A mixed-methods study of Singapore's T-Up program," Technovation, Elsevier, vol. 57, pages 21-29.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:techno:v:57-58:y:2016:i::p:21-29
    DOI: 10.1016/j.technovation.2016.07.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lee, Sungjoo & Park, Gwangman & Yoon, Byungun & Park, Jinwoo, 2010. "Open innovation in SMEs--An intermediated network model," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 290-300, March.
    2. Ashish Arora & Alfonso Gambardella, 2010. "Ideas for rent: an overview of markets for technology," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(3), pages 775-803, June.
    3. Arvanitis, Spyros & Kubli, Ursina & Woerter, Martin, 2008. "University-industry knowledge and technology transfer in Switzerland: What university scientists think about co-operation with private enterprises," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 1865-1883, December.
    4. Szulanski, Gabriel, 2000. "The Process of Knowledge Transfer: A Diachronic Analysis of Stickiness," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 9-27, May.
    5. Herrera, Liliana & Muñoz-Doyague, Maria Felisa & Nieto, Mariano, 2010. "Mobility of public researchers, scientific knowledge transfer, and the firm's innovation process," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 63(5), pages 510-518, May.
    6. Mayer, Sabine & Blaas, Wolfgang, 2002. "Technology Transfer: An Opportunity for Small Open Economies," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 275-289, June.
    7. Edler, Jakob & Fier, Heide & Grimpe, Christoph, 2011. "International scientist mobility and the locus of knowledge and technology transfer," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 791-805, July.
    8. Amesse, Fernand & Cohendet, P., 2001. "Technology transfer revisited from the perspective of the knowledge-based economy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(9), pages 1459-1478, December.
    9. Bozeman, Barry, 2000. "Technology transfer and public policy: a review of research and theory," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(4-5), pages 627-655, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christos Kolympiris & Sebastian Hoenen & Peter G. Klein, 2019. "Learning by Seconding: Evidence from National Science Foundation Rotators," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(3), pages 528-551, May.
    2. Zhengxin Wang & Minghuan Shou & Shuai Wang & Ruinan Dai & Keqian Wang, 2019. "An Empirical Study on the Key Factors of Intelligent Upgrade of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(3), pages 1-1, January.


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