KANBrief 4/12

Standardization: a bridge between research and innovation

In order to remain competitive on the global stage, Europe must strengthen its innovative capacity. Standardization can be a bridge between research and innovation and thus contribute to the creation of economic value. By providing information and advice and through a liaison programme, CEN and CENELEC support researchers in systematically addressing standardization in their projects.

 In order to strengthen its innovative capacity, the European Union has created the “Innovation Union” as part of its “Europe 2020” programme. This initiative aims at improving the framework conditions for research and development in the private sector. The Innovation Union recognizes the important role standards play for innovation, noting that they enable dissemination of knowledge and interoperability between new products and services and that they provide a platform for further innovation (Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union (pdf)). This idea is also included in the HORIZON 2020 proposal (Proposal for a Regulation: 'Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020) (pdf)EC communication on Horizon 2020 – The Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (pdf)) for a framework programme which, in the period from 2014 to 2020, will combine all research and innovation funding provided by the EU, with a total budget of 80 billion euros.

The European standardization organizations CEN and CENELEC publish European Standards (ENs), Technical Reports (TRs), Technical Specifications (TSs) and Workshop Agreements (CWAs). Under the current 7th framework programme (FP7), the development of any of these documents can be funded as part of research projects. In the fields of nanoscience (NMP), energy, environment, security and transport in particular, the European Commission is making direct reference to the role of standards and standardization in the current calls.

Standardization and research hand in hand

CEN and CENELEC apply an integrated approach covering the full innovation cycle, from research through to market take-up: before the project proper is launched, the screening of related standards that capture the state-of-the-art enables researchers to avoid reinventing the wheel. Furthermore, project proposers should consider links and the proposal of new standards.

Giving systematic consideration to standardization offers the chance to enhance the interoperability of the project's outcomes with existing products and services. It helps to identify and address existing gaps in standardization (e.g. requirements, control parameters, measurement procedures). In addition, standardization facilitates the transfer of research and innovation solutions to the market. Research results taken up in a standard remain available beyond the project's lifetime, supporting their longterm exploitation and dissemination.

For research projects with European funding, CEN and CENELEC offer the possibility for project liaisons to be concluded with a relevant Technical Committee(TC). These enable a representative from the research project to participate in the meetings of the TC and relevant Working Groups as an observer. He has no voting rights, but can benefit from synergies between the research and standardization work (avoiding duplication of the latter) and can propose new work items (standards) directly to the TC.

CEN and CENELEC have a dedicated  Research Helpdesk that supports the research community in integrating standardization into their future R&D projects. The team provides tailored and confidential advice to project consortia on addressing and integrating standards on innovative products or services.

Andreea Gulacsi


Unit Manager Research Integration CEN-CENELEC Management Centre