China EU Information Technology Standards Research Partnership

Principal Investigator:

Professor Robin Williams

Research Team:

This project, led by Robin Williams, Ian Graham, James Stewart and Xiaobai Shen at The University of Edinburgh, Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation, is in collaboration with the University of Oslo (Norway), RWTH-Aachen University and ISI Fraunhofer Institute (Germany), Vytautas Magnus University (Lithuania) as well as Chinese partners: Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Policy and Management. 


This project was funded by the European Union.


The People's Republic of China (hereafter China) has in recent years begun to be remarkably active in a number of areas of ICT interoperability standards. This raises a number of issues for China about standardisation processes: their standardisation strategy and its relationship with technology promotion policy. The outcome of these processes could have important consequences for the global ICT market and for the European economy.

The European Union has agreed to fund the China EU Information Technology Standards Research Partnership. This project will promote research collaboration and engagement between research, innovation and policy communities in relation to Information Technology standardisation in China and Europe.

This project brings together leading European and Chinese centres for research into ICT Interoperability Standards to undertake a comparative examination of ICT standardisation processes and associated policies between EU and China. 

The 24 month project, due to start in February 2008, will develop a knowledge network of leading players in the field, within Europe, China and beyond. The project will examine the new ICT standardisation activity emerging in China, apparently linked to its goals to promote indigenous technology. It will compare these emerging standardisation processes with those that have emerged and are being currently pursued by European players.

A set of empirical studies will focus upon a selected sample drawn from the five areas of standardisation flagged in the European Union Information Societies Technologies RTD programme as bearing critically to European technology and industrial strategy, including 4th Generation Mobile Telephony and Audio-Visual Systems and Mobile Broadcasting.

The studies will examine the standardisation approach adopted; the strategies of public policy, technical and industrial players in relation to standards. It will explore the likely implementation and uptake of standards and their outcomes for new technological innovation and markets. A particular interest is whether the outcomes will be open standards, alignment between regional economies , competitive standards processes leading to so-called "standards wars" or the fragmentation of global markets. Attention will be paid to processes of social learning by standardisation bodies, technology and industrial players and policy actors.


The study findings will be discussed with Chinese and European standards bodies and policy communities, who will assist in explicating the policy implications.