The COVID-19 crisis has stressed the need to accelerate SME digitalisation, to weather the storm in the short run, increase resilience in the longer term and “build back better”. However, the pre-COVID challenges related to digital (non) adoption by SMEs remain. Despite the significant benefits on offer, smaller businesses continue to lag in the digital transformation. At the firm level, digital gaps are strongly associated with gaps in productivity, scaling up, innovation and growth.
In 2020-21, OECD governments have launched important public programmes and ‘rescue packages’ to help SMEs adapt to the contactless economy triggered by COVID-19 restrictions, as well as ‘recovery packages’ and structural reforms to support them increase resilience and transition to the more digitalised economy of the future, thus contributing to a more inclusive recovery. Business associations and private sector companies that are active in the digital space also play an important role in this transition, such as through direct support, tailored services and trainings and learning opportunities for SMEs to enhance their digital skill set.
The virtual meeting will gather representatives from governments, regulators, business, SME associations, incubators and international organisations. Participants will be encouraged to discuss opportunities and challenges related to digitalisation and SMEs to build back better.