Dan Breznitz is the Munk Chair of Innovation Studies and his opinion piece was published June 9 in The Globe and Mail. An excerpt:

We discovered that China was investing significant amount of resources in making its voice heard amid an ever-growing array of international technology standards. Why?

It turns out that standards-setting isn’t just a piece of technical work to ensure that the best technology is used to enhance human welfare. It does some of that, but along the way, it also decides who wins and loses in the innovation economy, and the rules under which those systems operate.

The game is about which countries’ and companies’ technologies are embedded into the standards, usually in the form of essential patents. If your company has just invested a billion dollars to develop core technologies for the next-generation mobile telephony standards and your patents get embedded into the new standard, then you and even your country have just won the lottery. From now on, a few dollars will be shipped your way on the sale of every phone produced anywhere in the world using this standard.

On the other hand, if you lose the technology standards game, all of that private and public investment – remember that for every dollar of private research and development spending, we have to add years and billions of dollars in public funding – will go down the tube. And if you’re not even at the table, like Canada, you end up writing cheques rather than collecting them.

Read the full article in The Globe and Mail

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