Monday, 19 October 2009

Speech from President Barroso on Europe's Innovation Policy

Last week president Barroso gave a remarkable, forward looking speech to Parliament at the European Innovation Summit. He characterises how the knowledge society needs to be a driver of innovation and outlines the cornerstones of the future European innovation policy. This includes, amongst other things, the aspects of open innovation, of standardisation as a facilitator of innovation, and of the need for new, innovative models for IPR handling.

For more information see the Commission website on the Innovation Summit called Knowledge4Innovation where you can also view and download further information.

Addition of Oct 20:
The speech is now also available in transcript for reading - read on the Commission website or download as pdf.

Relevant link of today: Speech of Commissioner Kroes on competition policy and the role of standards and interoperability

Last week Commissioner Kroes gave a speech at the Harvard Club of Belgium. The Commissioner addressed the full range of issues regarding competition policy and the benefits of standards and interoperability as well as issues regarding improvement of IPR handling in Standards Developing Organisations with mechanisms like patent disclosure etc. I would like to highlight the following three passages from Commissioner Kroes' speech here:

Following her speech on open standards from 2008, Commissioner Kroes stressed:
In essence, standards are good because they create the level playing field on which all can compete. More than that, good standard-setting helps consumers, boosts competitiveness and can spur market growth. Remember, for example, the wide-spread benefits of some of the most common standards in everyday use I am thinking of the GSM standard for mobile phone, Internet protocols, the magnetic stripe on various ID and banking cards, MPEG for videos and podcasts.
Commissioner Kroes continued emphasizing the benefits of open and transparent standardisation for competitiveness and innovation:
If standardisation processes are open and transparent, then standards can bring significant benefits to consumers by ensuring compatibility between products, which will generate competition on price and innovation.

And on interoperability the Commissioner pointed out:
Standards may facilitate economies of scale, but it is with interoperability that they really add value to the economy. Standards are the foundation of interoperability – they create the level playing field needed for interoperability, where all can compete. When good standard-setting allows everyone to interoperate, it is also more likely that consumers will get the sort of high-quality and innovative products that work in a wide range of situations.
To some extend the speech reads like the resumée of Commissioner Kroes' term of office of the last 5 years. It is worth reading the full speech on the Commissions website or download from there in pdf format. (All quotes above from the Commission website)

Friday, 16 October 2009

You need a new suit once in a while, don't you...

I decided to give my blog a new look today. I find it a bit more modern and clear. Hope you like it too and further enjoy browsing by here. Have a nice weekend everyone. I will enjoy the days off after a rather busy week and will enjoy the sports and culture events in which my kids are performing this weekend. So business will go on, but in different domains. Cheers...

Thursday, 15 October 2009

World Standards Day on EXPRESS: some snippets

Yesterday was World Standards Day. And it was on EXPRESS – the expert panel on the revision of the European standardisation system. See my blog post of Oct 6 for the announcement and in particular the link to the EXPRESS issues paper that had been prepared as input to yesterday's conference.

The conference was over all a success. At least if you count in participants. The large conference theatre in Charlemagne was not full, but well and densely populated. And the entire community of standards folks was around – the usual suspects and a good many more.

You couldn't really say that the conference did bring forth new breakthrough thinking. It was to a large extend rather a reconfirmation of the topics and issues that have been identified and are being discussed by the EXPRESS panel. This is good because it shows that the EXPRESS panel is capturing the critical items. There were no controversies, which might be due to the fact that participation from the audience was very much restricted to asking questions rather than bringing up ideas or criticism.

Several of the panelists were in positioning-mode rather than in visionary or brainstorming-mode. So the benefits of the ESOs and the current European standardisation system were stressed a lot with pointing at the needs to improve cooperation and the needs for global standards.

So here's what I personally take away as essentials from the conference:

  1. The critical issues that societies, or if you like: mankind, are facing in the next decade are around the environment, climate change, water and energy supply, optimisation and efficiency. Standardisation can help in finding smarter ways of doing things and getting processes and supply-chains better connected and optimised. The consequence to me is: What is needed is a mechanism to systematically support the integration of technologies via standards, the combination of standards into complex systems for solving the pressing issues described and foster innovative.

  2. Costas Andropoulos, Head of Commission Unit D4, gave a first overview on the comments the Commission received on the white paper on “Modernisation of the ICT standardisation policy in Europe”. The feedback is highly supportive to the Commission recommendations. Main areas where most comments were submitted include the list of attributes and their implementation; IPR; the composition of the platform. Costas explained that the Commission will now work on analysing the comments and taking them into account for the revision of the Council Decision. And he stressed that the Commission will submit a revised Council Decision in spring 2010 and that this time table even needs to be kept in case EXPRESS results should not be ready by then since further time should not be lost.

  3. Peter Brown, Executive Director of OASIS, pointed out that he and the OASIS Board of Directors see themselves not primarily as representing an organisation but as providing a platform for stakeholders to efficiently develop standards. I like this service provider attitude very much.

  4. The discussion around innovation was, to my mind, too much limited to the issue of transferring research results into standardisation. This is only one aspect of innovation. A broader view on innovation is needed taking into account the implementation of standards and the innovation on top of standards, e.g. for integrating technologies as described above. This innovation potential where open standards play a key role needs to be taken up by an effective European innovation policy.

And here's some criticism of the conference which I picked up in coffee break discussions:

  • Some people were disappointed that there were no real progressive or visionary thinking;
  • Some people were disappointed that there was a lack of representation of speakers in supporting open standards, more open and community oriented approaches;
  • Some people thought that the discussions were not lively enough.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Thought leadership from OpenForum Europe: Seven key elements for the reform of the European Standardisation System

OpenForum Europe published today a strategic discussion paper listing "Seven Key Elements for a Modernised European Standardisation System". This is in the context of work of the European Commission on reforming the European standardisation system and the EU ICT standards policy.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, this week, on world standards day, there will be an open conference on the reform of the European standardisation system taking into account the work of the EXPRESS panel.

Secondly, in early summer this year, the Commission had published a white paper on the modernisation of the ICT standardisation policy for Europe (see also my blog entry from early July).

The discussion paper from OpenForum Europe provides some breakthrough and pragmatic thinking on required reform steps. The "seven key elements" include aspects like
  • positioning Europe in a globalised world;
  • making effective use of open standards developed by global open standards organisations and fora;
  • identifying additional roles for the National Standards Organisations in Europe;
  • promoting innovation and growth with open standars;
  • looking at the societal dimension of standardisation;
  • striving for more open and transparent processes in standards development and consensus building.
Read the full article on the OFE website or download the strategic discussion paper directly from there.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

World Standards Day- EU Commission workshop on EXPRESS

The European Commission is dedicating this year's world standards day for discussing the work and tasks of the Expert Panel on the Revision of the European Standardisation System (EXPRESS).

The conference title is forward looking: "European Standardisation for the next decade". It will be held on October 14, 2009, in Brussels in the Charlemagne Building. Registration is now open and the agenda can be downloaded on the respective Commission website.

For the basis of the discussion at the conference, the EXPRESS group has produced an Issue Paper which is available online for download.

This Issue Paper outlines the key challenges and elements that are discussed in EXPRESS and that have been identified as critical for the future European standardisation system. Apart from organisational and financial issues these include most notably globalisation, standardisation and innovation, services and the relation to global standards development organisations. The focal question is, of course, in which way public policies should be refocussed to better address issues around standardisation and to better use standards for achieving and promoting the respective policy objective. Moreover, it needs to be decided which changes need to be made to the European legal framework on standardisation, above all to Directive 98/34.

The Commission explicitly invites all interested parties to submit comments to the EXPRESS Issue Paper.