Integrating ‘standards’ activities in to PoC R&D: A new Code of Practice for Researchers
Standards are technical specifications that define requirements for products, production processes, services or test-methods. They are normally developed by industry and market actors following some basic principles such as consensus, openness, transparency and non-discrimination. Standards are approved and published by standards agencies like the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and the International Standards Organisation (ISO). Their adoption is voluntary.
Standards now form a clear policy focus for the European Commission. They have an essential role to play in boosting European industry’s competitiveness and resilience and to build a sustainable future. This is clearly emphasised recent policy documents such as the European Green Deal and in the New Industrial Strategy for Europe.
Standards may sound dry but they are an important part of research commercialisation. They enable dissemination of knowledge, bridge the gap between research and products/services allowing the diffusion of the technology, facilitate the deployment of new technologies, and allow innovations to more easily gain market acceptance and consumer trust. Compliance with standards can provide an accelerated route to market for a technology. This is particularly important where it is challenging to use licensing of IP rights as the primary method of Technology Transfer.
So important is the aspect of ‘standardisation’ for technology development that it is now visible in the Horizon Europe application form and seen as being a critical section for some Calls. In addition, DG Research and Innovation is leading the creation of a Code of Practice for researchers on standardisation. This will offer a set of recommendations on how beneficiaries of public R&I programmes can best identify opportunities and techniques to valorise their projects results through standardisation. In addition, the Commission plans a Standardisation Booster from 2022 to help Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe beneficiaries to valorise their results through standardisation.
PoC may feel very early to be thinking about standards but ensuring conformity from the beginning is critical for rapid and successful valorisation and TRL3 is a good stage to begin planning. One approach adopted by many Horizon 2020 projects has been to work with standards agencies and technical committees by making them partners in a collaborative research project. Both the Spanish standardisation body UNE and the Austrian Standards agency are good examples of national agencies who have supported Horizon projects.
Projects from the Western Balkans that aim to graduate towards European funds like Horizon Europe need to start thinking about the standards aspect now, or they may find they are left behind their EU counterparts and disadvantaged in applications. But with the aspect of standards being taught in so few undergraduate courses and Standards Agencies in the region not yet including participation in R&I activities in their business models, this may be challenging.
If the European Commission makes standards a mandatory part of some Horizon calls then this may force researchers from the Western Balkans to catch-up very rapidly! But capacity building may also be beneficial. Laura MacDonald, Chief Executive at ASTP, Europe’s premiere Knowledge Transfer Association, sees this as being a possible focus for future support actions. “ATSP training courses have helped many researchers and technology transfer offices understand how to use IP rights to valorise their research” she said. “With standards being an emerging focus, this may be an area where Europe needs to help public research organisations, TTOs and researchers to build capacity”.
- European Commission (2021): Standards drive innovation:
- European Commission (2019): The European Green Deal:
- European Commission (2021): Communication “Updating the 2020 New Industrial Strategy: Building a stronger Single Market for Europe’s recovery:
- European Commission (2021): European Research Area Policy Agenda – Overview of actions for the period 2022-2024:
- Standardization in Horizon Europe:
- Integrating Standards in your Horizon 2020 project:
- European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC):
- International Standards Organisation – find your national standards organisation:
- Association of European Science and Technology Transfer Professionals: