Standardisation as Innovation Policy Instrument: a case of energy performance for houses

30th November 2017

Dr Henk de Vries

Associate Professor of Standardisation at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Rotterdam






This seminar is co-organised with C-EENRG (Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance)


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Standards shape technology and thus impact innovation. Standards ‘freeze’ requirements whereas ‘newness’ is inherent to innovation, so standards may be accused of hindering innovation. The paradox is that empirical evidence shows that standards rather enhance innovation and therefore standardisation deserves to be included in innovation policy.


Henk de Vries will demonstrate the impact of standards on different categories of innovation by using the case of standards for energy performance of newly-built houses in The Netherlands. By studying building permits, the spread of innovative solutions for heating and ventilation systems used in these houses was measured. Tightening performance requirements lead to a larger market share of certain technological innovations and created innovations of house designs. Architects and construction companies prefer incremental innovations but if these are insufficient to meet the requirements, systemic innovations had to be used. Process and organisational innovations are needed to enable the latter. Standardisation thus triggered different forms of innovation. Apparently, standardisation can be used both as a policy instrument to stimulate innovation and to achieve societal goals such as reducing energy consumption. Henk concludes by discussing the conditions for such a win-win combination.


About the speaker


Dr Henk de Vries is an Associate Professor of Standardisation at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam. With research focus on standardisation from a business perspective, he is the author and co-author of more than 300 publications in the field of standardisation. He is currently the president of the European Academy for Standardisation (EURAS). Earlier in his career he held a number of different positions at the Netherlands Standardisation Institute (NEN).


Seminar programme


2.00pm   Arrival (coffee and tea)

2.15pm   Seminar begins

3.00pm   Q&A and networking


Location: Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, 17 Charles Babbage Road, Cambridge, CB3 0FS


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