SMEs should be encouraged to use standards and participate in the International, European and National standardization system. Using standards can strengthen their innovation capacity.
The vital role played by SMEs in the European economy has long been recognized. Several studies, strategies and subsequent policy initiatives at both European and national levels have identified Europe's 23 million SMEs as a group that requires special attention.
Standardization allows companies access to the state of the art in technology and thereby strenghtens their innovation capacity. It creates a level playing field for the market access of companies and the introduction of new products and services. To this end, SMEs should be encouraged to use standards and participate in the International, European and National standardization system.
In order to remain relevant to and connected with SMEs, the European standardization have considered how it can utilize new processes, new technologies and existing best practice to respond more fully to the need of SMEs. A range of issues have been identified. The result are assembled in a toolbox consisting of 58 recommendations. These recommendations are to be implemented by the National Member Bodies, the trade organizations and CEN/CENELEC by the end of 2011. The coordination and execution of the work are carried out in a joint CEN/CENELEC working group SME.
Furthermore a qualitative research in Denmark and Norway on "Engaging SMEs in development of service standardization" has confirmed that awareness and participation in standardizatin is primarly to be found at the individual level, and secondarly is being initiated by the company. Some of the recommendations mentioned above adresses this issue by working in a closer relatonship with the trade organizations representing the SMEs.
A Nordic cooperation on the implementation of a selection of the recommendations will contribute to finding the best practice for engaging SMEs in standardization and improving the communication and cooperation with the trade associations.