Business success takes a village. Beyond the idea creators, designers, and manufacturers, there are countless others who pave the road to commercialization. And whether innovators know this or not, standards and conformity assessment can sometimes make or break that success.
For 50 years, the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) has been a part of that village, supporting Canadian businesses through standardization. In fact, collaborative engagements and partnerships are how we established the Innovation Initiative. The initiative, launched in 2017, provides complete standardization strategies that help innovators both facilitate technology commercialization and participate in developing the standards that shape their market.
This initiative marks a shift in the way SCC has been working with businesses. Rather than addressing industry needs as they come to us, we began reaching out to them through the innovation ecosystem. By building relationships with important programs and hubs such as the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP), the Clean Growth Hub, Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), the Accelerated Growth Service (AGS), the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), Innovation Canada and many others, we have supported the creation of champions for standardization. Nearly half of the innovators engaged by our initiative have been referred to us by our partners.
Through the Innovation Initiative we have spoken with more than 250 Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to discuss their issues and help them navigate the standardization network. In some cases, the solution may be to use existing standards or connect them with other partners in the standardization network—such as regulators, standardization development organizations, and certification bodies—to address their needs. WindTrans Systems Ltd., for example, a Canadian SME who developed a revolutionary high-volume, low-speed pump to respond to human-made and natural disaster, was blocked from commercializing without certification. “By amending the relevant standard, we could get our pump certified and that gave our buyers the confidence they needed to purchase our product,” said Andrew Massé, General Manager, WindTrans.
In many other cases, we work with innovators and the standardization system to develop new solutions to support technology advancement, leadership, and market adoption. Innovators, like the World Council on City Data (WCCD), are supported with guidance and funding to take a leading role in standards development to influence the standards that will help protect their interests, better leverage their intellectual property and enable them to remain competitive in the global marketplace. “Participating in and implementing standardization has helped to solidify WCCD’s global reputation as the “go-to” organization in enabling cities to embrace standardized city data to build a smarter, more resilient and sustainable future for cities in Canada and around the world,” said Patricia McCarney, President and CEO, WCCD. These standardization strategies have helped companies address some of the most critical business challenges facing them, such as the need to protect health and safety; ensure compatibility; enhance consumer confidence; ensure market access; and, boost competitiveness. Implementing the strategies allows innovators to get their products or services to market so they can compete nationally and globally—and even become world leaders in their field.
We are fostering partnerships with governments, research institutions, businesses and key industries to identify where Canadians have unique expertise and encourage the development of relevant standards and conformity assessment solutions to ensure we are global leaders in those areas. For example, through our Innovation Initiative we have already facilitated the participation of nearly 50 Canadian experts on international technical committees in key growth areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Data Management, and Cannabis.
Since the launch of the Innovation Initiative, we have broadened our approach so that Canada—and Canadian innovators—can capitalize on opportunities in a rapidly-changing world. Rather than merely focusing on delivering standardization strategies to individual creators or companies, we are expanding our efforts to identify how standardization can multiply its impact in and across entire sectors. We are currently facilitating the Canadian Data Governance Standardization Collaborative, a collaborative body of experts to identifying standard development and conformity assessment solutions and areas for development in this rapidly evolving area.
Although we cannot predict what new technologies or ideas lie around the corner, we can ensure that we have the structure, people and systems in place to enable Canada, and Canadian innovators, to take advantage of the opportunities they will offer and to bolster their success. And we will continue to play our role in the village to accomplish it.