Is standardization a limitation for innovation?


CEN/CENELEC, two of the European Standardization Bodies, organised an info day on 13/11 in Brussels to exchange on the way standards can promote innovation, and encourage contributors to be involved in the standardization process. A main focus was put on researchers and SMEs.

Standardization may be seen as a limitation to innovation: on one side, standardization is supposed to reflect the state of the art, and the description of innovative ideas may find some limitations when it comes to their recognition (patents, long processes).

The European Commission representatives (DG Research / DG Connect) presented the funding opportunities under programmes such as Horizon 2020 or to support research and innovation projects from the early ideas to their implementation. Besides innovative services or products were presented, mainly with a focus on environment and smart ideas dedicated to industrial purposes.

National standardisation bodies explained it is key to meet innovators and provide them with support to be involved in the standardization process as early as possible. Creating standardisation innovation departments was the first step for this approach.

 Drawing a few conclusions from the day, it was extensively mention the need:

  • to explain the importance of standards to innovators
  • to provide new tools / procedures to ease the involvement in standardisation so that innovations can be more easily implemented: use of platforms, communities, network
  • to involve the right people / SMEs around the table to ensure fruitful discussions; this could be done through incentives co-leaded by industry and authorities
  • to make sure innovators / SMEs are aware that standardisation processes take some time and budget.