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IDB selects 7 pilot projects for SMES to be funded by ICT Innovation Program (ICT4BUS)

The Inter-American Development Bank announced today that it had completed the selection process for seven projects chosen to receive financing following a Second Call for Proposals for Information and Communications Technology projects – the ICT4BUS Program.

With funding by the Multilateral Investment Fund, a member of the IDB Group, the ICT4BUS Program supports innovative ICT applications and services aimed at improving the competitiveness of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) through increased market penetration, workplace productivity and value chain integration. Attracting strong interest in Latin America and the Caribbean, the program finances with matching grants of up to 60 percent of each project, contributing between a minimum of $75,000 and a maximum of $500,000 for a single project.

The program is managed by the IDB through the Information Technology for Development Division of the Sustainable Development Department (SDS/ICT) and the Regional Technical Cooperation Division of the Integration and Regional Programs Department (INT/RTC).

The Institute for the Connectivity of the Americas, an agency of the Canada’s International Development Research Center, will also be providing financial support for two projects selected in the 2003-2004 Call for Proposals.

Over 118 project profiles from 19 different countries were submitted to the program, of which 25 were invited to submit a full proposal. The economic and technical feasibility of the proposals were evaluated by an External Committee of experts in areas related to the ICT4BUS Program.

The seven projects approved by the Program were:

PYME CREATIVA (CREAción de Tecnologías de Información para Redes Industriales de Valor Agregado) submitted by the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM - Mexico).
Development of e-services along the model of an e-Hub that will enhance the position of SMEs in the value chain. Services will support contract negotiation, engineering, marketing, production facility and process diagnostics and procurement. SMEs will be able to enhance enterprise cooperation within specific industrial clusters, namely mechanics and plastic, in order to gain access to international market opportunities.

Facilitación y Desarrollo del Comercio Exterior en Guatemala submitted by Asociación Gremial de Exportadores de Productos No Tradicionales (AGEXPRONT – Guatemala).
A centralized system accessible through the Internet (“Ventanilla Unica para las Exportaciones” or VUPE) will issue certificates of origin and other documents for exporters of nontraditional goods, allow online transactions and collect and distribute relevant trade statistics. Furthermore, the platform will be integrated with official electronic customs platforms in the United States and Central American countries and enable exporters to expedite customs formalities through the VUPE. The “Ventanilla Unica” will serve a large community of SMEs that are involved in international trade and will complement other regional initiatives within the CAFTA trade agreement.

E-Cadena Productiva submitted by Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico.
An e-business and e-manufacturing portal will host specific applications, including software for Customer Relationship Management, Supply Chain Management and Computer Aided Design, either to be acquired or developed by the project. SMEs will access these services via the ASP (Application Service Provider) model. Technology transfer and technical assistance will be offered via a physical and virtual center. The applications will help SMEs improve their products, marketing and management processes. These applications and services will be offered at a much lower cost than other ICT software applications currently available on the market.

Terra Inka: Acceso al Mercado Turístico (TI-AMT) submitted by Asociación Civil Khipu – Peru.
The project will implement a platform to promote and transact tourism offerings of medium and small sized operators. The system will be based on XML language, which ensures compatibility with international tourism sites, among them SABRE and Expedia. The initiative promotes smaller tourism operators, who hardly ever appear in major travel sites. Creating a dedicated and high quality presence in the Internet coupled with strong marketing efforts and a fully transactional platform will help penetrate certain niche markets, like the adventure or cultural oriented travelers.

Plataforma TIC de Apoyo a la Competitividad de la PYME en la Economía Digital submitted by Centro de Productividad Integral (CEPRI - Chile).
Development of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with self-design features for small sized businesses that will facilitate adoption of management systems by SMEs, and support change management in targeted businesses. The project will facilitate the access by SMEs of both, local and international markets, as well as their improved integration in the value chain. The ability to implement an ERP system, and the consulting services that are needed for this purpose, all at reasonable prices, would greatly increase SMEs efficiency and readiness for conducting business in extended or new markets.

Gestión de Conocimiento para Riesgos en Proyectos de Desarrollo de Software (KM-SWRISK) submitted by Universidad de Talca (Chile).
The project aims at developing an Internet-based knowledge management system that will be help identify and manage risks in software development. One of the weaknesses of software developers, especially small and medium sized firms, lies in the ability to ensure quality and functionality of the applications and services by predicting customer-software interaction. But identifying critical passages in software development implies gathering knowledge that typically will require many years of work. The service that the project aims to develop will allow companies to shorten that period by accessing and sharing a knowledge platform to which all will contribute and at the same time benefit from.

SME Metasys submitted by Fundação de Desenvolvimento da Pesquisa (FUNDEP – Brazil).
The project will develop a computing infrastructure that uses PC or special end-user workstations and is geared toward SMEs. An operating system manager, Metasys, controls most aspects of the system behavior automatically thus eliminating the need for a local system administration. Two knowledge-management solutions will be offered: an ERP and a search engine. All software applications will be based on Open Source solutions. Most SMEs cannot afford to invest in advanced ICT systems that would help them improve their competitive position in the market. The project will develop an integrated ICT solution in a highly productive Linux-based configuration with a low TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).

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