The benchmark of excellence for India's SMEs.

ICICI Bank Business Banking & CNBC-TV18 present EMERGING INDIA AWARDS 2013, powered by CRISIL

The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise sector is crucial to India's economy. There are 29.8 million enterprises in various industries, employing close to 69 million people. Given the continuing turbulent market conditions, this year at the ICICI Bank and CNBC TV18's Emerging India Awards, we focus on the sustainability of businesses in these uncertain economic conditions. The three main pillars of creating an environment feasible for SMEs to continue to survive and probably plan out an expansion are through three key factors namely, legal and regulatory framework, government support and financial infrastructure support. SMEs function in a highly competitive environment and require an enabling environment to sustain growth. Well-rounded fiscal support, a strong policy framework, and incentives promoting innovation by financial institutions can significantly increase the penetration of formal financial services to the SME sector. The commitment to promoting greater finance for SMEs in India, and looking for innovative ways to overcome the current challenges to the growth of this market is critical for national economic growth.

Innovation and competitiveness have a dynamic, mutual relationship. Innovation thrives in a competitive environment and in turn, plays a key role in the achievement of such an environment. This process may be breakthrough or incremental, and it may occur systematically in a company or sporadically; it may be achieved by introducing new or improved goods or services and/or - implementing new or improved operational processes and/or - implementing new or improved organizational/ managerial processes. Innovation generates economic value, new jobs in the economy and cultures of entrepreneurship. Many Indian firms are successfully competing against international firms and brands and it can be concluded that this has been made possible by a combination of factors, including enabling environment, rising capital and labour productivity as well as improved quality of goods and services at lower costs. Business costs tend to creep up almost unnoticed through the year, so it is worthwhile to arrange regular reviews of fixed costs. The SME sector has found effective ways to cut them back. Some businesses have set a target of a certain percentage reduction each year to offset these natural increases, and although this might not always be achievable it does help to develop cost consciousness in the business and keep cost control higher up the agenda.

This year, more than ever before, the mantra is the fact that Innovation is the 'necessary core competence to remain competitive in this new landscape and it is with this perspective that we move ahead and honour those that continue to make a mark at the 9th edition of the ICICI Bank and CNBC TV18's Emerging India Awards.