Brussels, 31 October 2014 – More than 370 delegates, including representatives of research and innovation projects, business and industry, national and European standardization organizations and the European Commission, participated in the European Conference 'Standards: Your Innovation Bridge', which was held in Brussels yesterday (30 October 2014). This event was organized by the European Standardization Organizations CEN and CENELEC, in partnership with the European Commission and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
The Conference was organized in the framework of the BRIDGIT project, supported by the European Commission and EFTA, which aims to "Bridge the Gap between Research and Standardization". The main goal of the event was to bring together representatives of all the relevant stakeholders to explore the relationship between research/innovation and standardization activities – especially at European level.
Standardization is an effective and powerful instrument for sharing knowledge and transferring new technologies, ideas and innovations to the market. This has been demonstrated by successful experiences across a range of different sectors including advanced manufacturing, energy, information technology, recycling, transport and security. However, in many cases the results of research and innovation activities are not fully exploited – either because researchers and innovators do not fully understand the potential benefits of linking-up with standardization, or because they are not aware of how they can identify and contribute to relevant standardization activities.
The European Conference 'Standards: Your Innovation Bridge' was opened by Scott Steedman, CEN Vice-President Policy, who said that "standards accelerate innovation" and "increase probability of success". He underlined that "standards have become the knowledge fuel for business and industry" and they are driving the growth of new and emerging fields – such as electric vehicles, micro-biology, etc.
The keynote speech was delivered by Christian Reinaudo, CEO of Agfa-Gevaert, who used the example of standards for x-ray images & scans in the field of healthcare to explain the benefits of standardization in terms of sharing knowledge, supporting the introduction of new technologies, and opening-up markets. He said that standardization, innovation and intellectual property are three sides of the same triangle, in which "standards represent the common infrastructure, which provides a basis for innovation".
PHOTO: Christian Reinaudo (CEO of Agfa-Gevaert), Jacki Davis (Conference Moderator) and Scott Steedman (CEN Vice-President Policy) [© CEN-CENELEC]
Leading experts from the worlds of business, academia/research, and standardization took part in a panel discussion which looked at the role of standards throughout the innovation lifecycle. The members of the panel agreed that standards play an important role in facilitating the acceptance of new products in the market.
The European Commission was represented by Clara de la Torre, Director 'Key Enabling Technologies' in the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. She said that the Horizon 2020 programme, launched at the start of 2014, was more focused than previous EU programmes on bringing the results of research and innovation to the market. Mrs de la Torre emphasized that "standardization can facilitate the dissemination of innovation into new products", and underlined the need for standardization to be considered at an early stage during the conception and development of research/innovation projects.
The Conference programme included a choice of six breakout sessions, which addressed specific issues including: the relationship between standards and patents, how standards facilitate market access, the strategic importance of standardization, how standards enable knowledge transfer, and how to integrate standardization in research projects.
Alongside the Conference, there was an exhibition area where 27 projects were presented. These projects had been selected as examples of good practice regarding how to make the connection between research/innovation and standardization activities.
The main conclusions of the Conference were summed-up in the final plenary session by the Director General of CEN and CENELEC, Elena Santiago Cid. She told the delegates: "We are convinced that standards can bridge the gap" between innovation and the market, "and we really have the inspiration and the ambition to become your innovation bridge".
"We believe that there is an ultimate goal regarding innovation, and that is to reach the market," said Mrs Santiago Cid. She emphasized the need to integrate standardization into research/innovation projects and to "identify entry points for research into standards". She said that the interfaces would have to be clarified, to ensure that the results of research and innovation activities could be fed into standardization activities in an efficient way.
PHOTO: Elena Santiago Cid, Director General of CEN and CENELEC [© CEN-CENELEC]
Mrs Santiago Cid highlighted the strategic value of standardization as a means for sharing knowledge and enabling new technologies and innovations to be accepted by the market. She insisted that companies could benefit from linking their research, innovation and standardization activities more closely with their overall business strategies. "This is something in which we need to work much harder - to bring the strategic value of research and standardization to make Europe more competitive," she said.
Turning to the next steps, Mrs Santiago Cid said that it would be important to improve contacts between researchers, innovators and standardizers, so that potential opportunities for mutually advantageous collaboration could be identified and followed-up as early as possible. In this regard, she welcomed the European Commission’s commitment to encouraging research and innovation projects to establish links with standardization activities, especially in the framework of the Horizon 2020 programme.
Mrs Santiago Cid emphasized the importance of promoting 'education about standardization' as a means to raise awareness and improve understanding. She said it was necessary for CEN and CENELEC to "explore ways to give more recognition to contributors" as a way of encouraging scientists and researchers to participate actively in standardization.
Finally, the Director General of CEN and CENELEC spoke of the need for an overall cultural change in the standardization community. "We have to introduce innovation in standardization," she said. "We have to have the capacity to adapt to evolving needs in a timely way. This is a challenge, and I think this is a challenge for the research community, for the innovators, and certainly for the standardizers."
The BRIDGIT project was launched in January 2013, with the goal of "Bridging the Gap between Research and Standardization". This project, which is supported by the European Commission and EFTA under a Specific Grant Agreement, is due to end in March 2015. The project consortium consists of nine national standardization bodies: AENOR (Spain), AFNOR (France), ASRO (Romania), BSI (United Kingdom), DIN (Germany), DKE (Germany), DS (Denmark), NEN (Netherlands), SN (Norway) – as well as the CEN-CENELEC Management Centre (CCMC), with DIN acting as project coordinator.
For more information about the European Conference 'Standards: Your Innovation Bridge', please see: www.cencenelec.eu/news/events/Pages/EV-2014-02.aspx
For more information about the relationship between research/innovation and standardization, please see the CEN-CENELEC website: www.cencenelec.eu/research
The latest issue of the CEN-CENELEC Newsletter 'CONNECT' (issue 17 – Autumn 2014) includes a Special Report about 'Standards and Innovation'.
Read the full press release (pdf version)
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