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New Research Funds To Help New Zealand Smes

12 June 2002

The University of Auckland Business School has secured funding for PhD research that will help small and medium sized New Zealand businesses to compete in the international market.

The new Enterprise Scholarship will provide funding for PhD research to the value of $25,000 per year for three years. It will be jointly funded by Microsoft New Zealand Limited and Government-funding agency the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST).

Senior Lecturer in the Department of Management and Employment Relations Dr Barbara Simpson says the parameters of the PhD project were developed after a gap was identified in research relating to SMEs in New Zealand.

"Many SMEs need to expand their businesses into global markets in order to grow and survive," Dr Simpson says.

"But small New Zealand companies find it difficult to expand because they struggle to meet the demands of the global market. They often have inadequate business knowledge and limited capacity to present marketing proposals overseas," Dr Simpson says.

"The new research project will aim to develop a deeper and more structured understanding of the models and options that might be available for New Zealand SMEs aiming to internationalise their businesses."

Dr Simpson, who identified the research opportunity together with Dr Rainer Seidel of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, says this is the first time that the Business School has been able to offer a scholarship of this kind.

"The Business School has been working hard to find innovative ways to fund new research," Dr Simpson says. "This scholarship offers us the ability to recruit a PhD student with the funding already secured."

"It also presents the Business School with the opportunity to strengthen its relationship with Microsoft and the wider business community, by creating and disseminating knowledge through research that is of national importance."

The research will identify different models of internationalisation for SMEs and will develop a theoretical framework to enable a critical comparison of these models. Guidelines and "success scenarios" will also be developed that can be generated and used as a blueprint for New Zealand SMEs in their business plans.

Commenting on Microsoft's sponsorship, Microsoft New Zealand's Managing Director, Ross Peat says the Enterprise Scholarship for PhD research reinforces Microsoft's long-term commitment to higher education and strong partnership with institutions of higher learning. He says the Enterprise Scholarship sponsorship also offers Microsoft the opportunity to provide meaningful support to SMEs who need to compete in a global market place to succeed.

"Innovation whether it is in technology or in business models cannot come about without a strong foundation in research. Through our own research investment and successes, we have learnt how research can lead to innovative developments that make a tangible and positive difference to the technology industry and computer users," says Mr Peat. "Through Enterprise Scholarship PhD research we hope a framework for developing a global business will result. This will make it easier for small and medium businesses to find international success."

The Business School will soon begin its search for a PhD student to take up this new research scholarship. If you would like more information about this, please contact Dr Barbara Simpson at The University of Auckland, on (09) 373 7599 ext 5126 (


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