What ICT standards can offer to SMEs

ICT Standards make available new technologies, disclose and share innovation. Standards allow different companies to implement and contribute to a complex technological ecosystem. As opposed to closed and vertical technologies built on proprietary systems, standards create an open and collaborative environment. ICT standards make available proprietary technologies to all users at a fair price. This offers SMEs an opportunity to innovate and access new markets.

Standardisation, i.e. the process of making standards, is a voluntary exercise led by industry and open to all interested parties. Standards are developed in organisations that put together the technical input of experts coming from different companies that are interested in contributing. Besides its 3 official Standardisation Organisations, CEN, CENELEC and ETSI, Europe also recognises ICT specifications devoloped by private fora such as OASIS, W3C, IETF etc.

From: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/ict-standards-infographic

While the majority of SMEs are just users of standards, some of them have realised the potential of becoming makers of standards. By contributing to the elaboration of a new standard, companies have the chance to influence the content of a technical specification that might be used all over the world and, thus, benefit from a big advantage on the market. SMEs and start-ups that develop innovative technologies and become standards makers have an open door to global markets and have access to millions of standards users in the EU internal market as well as internationally. Other potential advantages for SME standards makers are to generate revenues from licencing patented technologies included in standards and to have direct access to global industrial players who collaborate in the standards making.


Standards are never neutral. Instead, they reflect the strengths and innovations of those who develop them. Thus, non-participation in standardisation hands decision-making over to the competition.
Many SMEs are not aware about standardisation, thus they are excluded from it. Moreover access to the process is made difficult due to linguistic, technical and financial barriers.

In its report «The future of European Standardisation», the European Parliament stressed that SMEs, although they represent an essential part of the EU market, are not adequately involved in the standardisation system and cannot, therefore, exploit entirely the benefits derived from standardisation.

Small Business Standards (SBS) is a response to the desire of the EU to make the standardisation system as inclusive, transparent and open as possible, enhancing the participation of “weaker” actors such as SMEs. SBS aims at defending the position of SMEs in the European standards making process.