In this undated file photo, an employee of Shenzhen Digital Certificate Authority Co Ltd works on an electronic contract for a small enterprise at the company's office in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. (PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)

BEIJING – China aims to cultivate 1 million innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by 2025, according to a government guideline on the development of SMEs during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025).

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By then, the country will also incubate 100,000 SMEs that feature specialization, refinement, uniqueness and innovation, and 10,000 "little giant" firms, which refer to small enterprises in their early stage of development and focusing on high-end technologies, said the guideline jointly released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and 19 other ministries and government departments.

Research and development expenditure of small industrial firms above designated size is expected to maintain annual growth of above 10 percent by 2025, and the number of patent applications is also expected to increase by 10 percent annually.

Related work during the 14th Five-Year Plan period will focus on mitigating difficulties faced by SMEs with financing, according to the guideline, underscoring efforts to support new business models, coordinate research and production, and increase the connectivity between large companies and SMEs in terms of innovation.

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Efforts will also be made to improve the efficiency of services for SMEs and upgrade services with digital technologies, the guideline said.