The port ecosystem in Gwangyang contains numerous small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of high diversity and significant growth potential. Realizing that the growth of SMEs will lead to port growth and development through increased cargo volumes, YGPA kicked off the Innovation Partnership project. The project aims at empowering SMEs to achieve productivity innovation, and at fostering the shared SMEs and Port growth under a port community win-win spirit, delivering towards the government’s policy agenda for innovative growth led by the private sector.
YGPA (project coordinator), Korean Standard Association (consultant), and the SMEs formed a consortium, and each company set and implemented tasks for innovation, quantitative targets, and road maps based on a customized assessment of its current status. Participating SMEs were selected through a screening process on the basis of their innovation potential. YGPA signed an agreement with a professional consultant (Korean Standard Association) with years of experience in SME innovation guidance and matched them 1:1 with each of the selected SMEs. After an initial diagnosis by the consultants, the parties jointly established innovation goals, objectives and plans.
For example, a manufacturing company developed an algorithm for adjusting the mixing ratio of raw materials to reduce product defect rates and built a real-time monitoring system. As a result, it succeeded in reducing the number of customer claims by 71% and the number of facility stoppages due to mixer errors by 80%.
Starting with 5 SMEs in 2021, 7 SMEs participated in the 2022 exercise, and 10 SMEs are being supported with about $9,000 each in 2023. All companies participating in this project set two innovation goals, such as production rate per hour, and succeeded in achieving 100% of their goals. Due to these tangible results and the scale of support that is increasing every year, many SMEs in the Gwangyang Port area want to participate in the initiative.
YGPA does not expect these companies to directly contribute to the increase in port cargo volumes in the short term. Instead, the Innovation Partnership project is seen as planting the seeds for supporting the long-term sustainable port growth. Through the project, YPGA demonstrates its commitment to growing together with SMEs and the port community, in the mid- to long-term.