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25 Beijing businesses to pilot Kiwi software


25 Beijing business incubators to pilot Kiwi software

** China the latest of six countries to use Quantel Business Solutions

More than 500 Beijing-based companies are set to improve their business practices with help from performance assessment tools developed by New Zealand-owned Quantel Business Solutions.

Former Massey University MBA graduate (Tony) Yan Li, a senior project manager with the Beijing Innovation & Incubation Company (BIIC), is in Auckland this week to begin the first phase of a pilot with Quantel. Mr Li will be trained on software that will be used to assess the business capability and growth potential of the hundreds of companies linked with the 25 business incubators. The system will also be used to assess the incubators' performance.

In addition to the Beijing pilots, the trial will extend to other selected incubators nationally in China. Quantel pilots are also underway in Canada, Iran, UK, and Singapore.

Representatives from Industry New Zealand, The New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation, and the Massey e-centre, all of which are Quantel customers, joined Mr Li this week to discuss how to maximise value from the business assessment tools. The meeting took place at the e-centre, where Quantel has been based since March 2002.

Mr Li says that BIIC selected Quantel because they needed an electronic system to replace the manual methods currently used to report incubator performance back to key investors, which are primarily the Chinese government and state owned enterprises.

"Quantel will be used to assist incubator managers help the businesses operating within their centres to succeed and grow during the two-three years they typically spend in an incubator," says Mr Li.

Quantel co-founders Margaret Mulqueen and Steve Lewin developed the business capability software, termed Q100 World Class Business Assessment System, in response to local and global demand for tools that could help companies perfect the way they do business and expand into overseas markets. After completing a series of questions that address all areas of a successful business operation, Q100 measures progress and performance based on a set of international standards known as the Baldridge Criteria for Performance Excellence. These standards were developed by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology and are used by the New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation.

"We have found that there is a strong demand for an electronic performance measurement system that can enable business development managers to generate evaluations which they can share with incubator businesses and funding agencies," says Ms Mulqueen.

The Massey University e-centre has been trailing Q100 since July 2002. E-centre manager Steve Corbett says that Q100 helps identify areas in the business that need management attention at an early stage in a company's development, areas he says that profit and loss statements don't cover.

"There's always anecdotal information about what is working with the business and what isn't," says Mr Corbett. "The Quantel assessments can provide an immediate objective evaluation, thereby helping companies perfect their businesses practices more quickly, and we hope that means they are able to leave the Massey e-centre with a solid, successful and growing business."

Lance Wickman, General Manager of Industry New Zealand's Northern Region is using Quantel to assess high growth businesses that are being case-managed in Industry NZ's Fast Forward programme.

"Quantel tools allow our business development advisors to objectively assess their clients' capabilities and decide where best to focus assistance so that long-term sustainable growth can be achieved," says Mr Wickman.

Quantel is also working with Massey University's NZ Centre for SME Research, which will conduct a longitudinal study to determine if Quantel's assessment tools can be used to predict the probability of business success (or failure). Ms Mulqueen says the ability to provide these predictions is significant because statistics show that profitability for businesses within incubators can take about seven to 10 years.


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