The fact that European Commission funded projects are addressing advanced research often leads to the creation of a standards gap. The work within the project must be pre-competitive basic research that will benefit European society as a whole. This means projects are usually completed long before commercial products are available and before the standardization process has reached a consensus that project results should be become industry standards.
While this is a challenging structural issue for European Commission programmes, there are some techniques that a project can take to reduce the likelihood that the standardization process will stop prematurely when the formal project contract is completed:
• When identifying the partners responsible for standardization tasks, select not only those most technically knowledgeable, but also those that will substantially benefit from exploitation of the project results. These organizations are more likely to be able to justify continued participation in standards bodies as completing the standardization process will increase exploitation opportunities.
• If the project consortium includes user partners, get them involved in the standardization activities. They represent the view of the customer for those interested in commercial exploitation, and may motivate partners to continue the process after the project is completed.
• Consider the membership fee structure and if there are different fees for different types of member organizations. Often academic membership is cheaper than that of commercial organizations, so it may make sense to have an academic partner carry forward the standardization process after the project is completed as the costs will be lower.
• Consider combining the interests and resources of partners in order to continue the standardization process beyond the end of the project. It may be that sharing the costs between two or three partners will provide sufficient resources to complete consensus process.
All of these techniques become more viable the earlier the process of standardisation starts within the project, so that substantial progress is made towards consensus before the project contract is completed. Waiting until late in the project to commence the standardization process will make the standards gap much larger and less likely that it can be bridged by any of the above actions.
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