EIF Study Trip to France



A delegation of Members of the European Parliament traveled to Sophia Antipolis, a science and technology park that is home to many high tech companies, as well as public research centers, associations and The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). 

1. Introduction

This site visit included a rich programme of round-table discussions and site visits and was complemented with a 1-day programme in Paris.

The overarching theme was “the food chain research/standards/industrial-commercial deployment”, which was illustrated by concrete examples provided by different EIF member companies and organisations.

The programme in Sophia Antipolis was organized and hosted by EIF Associate member ETSI, which also coordinated the contribution of the other participating organisations. In Paris, the delegation was hosted by France Telecom and Alcatel-Lucent.  A good number of EIF company members were also represented in the two thematic Roundtables hosted by ETSI.

Participating  EIF political members and the Secretariat thank our hosts in both locations for highly valuable and well-organised occasions.

 2. Participants

Catherine Trautmann (EIF Governor, PSE France), Sophia Antipolis only

Malcolm Harbour (EIF Governor, PPE/ED UK)

Ignasi Guardans (ALDE, Spain)

Peter Linton (EIF Secretariat)

Cristina Monti (EIF Secretariat)

3. Programme

Tuesday 22 July

- Roundtable#1: “Research/innovation/standards, base ingredients for commercially successful products/services,” moderated by Malcolm Harbour MEP.

Panelists: Bruno Sportisse (INRIA), Paul Friedel (Orange), Gilles Logeais (SAP), Marc Dacier (Symantec), Refik Molva (Eurecom), Bert Bos (W3C), Margot Dor (ETSI).

Other participants: Vianney Hennes (Orange), Daniel Nabet (Orange) Claude Pin (Intel), Magnus Madford (Ericsson), Alain Moscowitz (Cecua), Sophie Le Pallec (GS1), Kartsen Menhold (NSN), Cristina Vela (Telefonica), Massimo Lucchina (CISCO)

The focus of the discussion was on standardization. The main aspects included: the role of Europe in setting “global standards”; the policy of mandating or encouraging standards; the relation and interaction between standards and IPRs.

Participants stressed the importance of standards as they ensure interoperability and therefore contribute to reducing implementation costs, entering new markets and creating economies of scale. The discussion also addressed the different tools available in Europe to develop and promote standards, including the European Commission Framework Programmes, the European Technology Platforms and the Joint Technology Initiatives. These tools offer good networking opportunities and provide a forum where operators and equipment manufacturers can meet and discuss before standards are set.  But while these tools are useful in defining a strategic direction, they cannot solve all problems encountered at implementation level and in financing.

When standards go to market, they require some differentiators (e.g. quality of service, customer care) to win the competition: finding the right balance between a collaborative model of innovation (between research institutes, universities and industry partners) on the one hand and a competitive approach on the other was identified as a critical component for a successful strategy.

Participants compared the different environments in Europe and in the US, in terms of focus and size of the projects, resources allocated for R&D, protection of start-ups and publication culture.

Research and standardization have different paces and time scales. Research (and ICT markets) move much faster than standardization.  Solutions should be identified to reduce the gaps between research/transfer/deployment. Joint labs or the European Institute of Technology could perhaps contribute to this. The processes of standardization needs to be improved and a better “reporting mechanism” should be put in place. At the same time, a holistic approach is also necessary to take into account the different stages involved in a standardization process.  

Additional complications may arise when IPRs are embedded in standards.  This said, there is a clear trend in which the value of the “ecosystem” which can be created through high quality ICT standards is in many cases growing relative to the value of IPRs, thus increasing the incentive of IPR owners to participate in standards-setting.

It was acknowledged that today’s economic, political, technical, geographical and regulatory landscape changes very rapidly. In each specific case, the best equation is sought to build a profitable ecosystem. This implies that no fit-all solution is available to successfully transform innovation into markets, products and services.

 - Visit to SAP labs (Gilles Logeais, Henrik Platte, Luca Compagna, Laurent Gomez, Cedric Ulmer)

Demos on European Research Project

• eGovernment (R4eGov)

• Public Security (eg crises management or how to improve Critical Infrastructure Protection by focusing on a secured sensor network, WASP project)

• AVANTSSAR Project (Automated VAlidatioN of Trust and Security of Service-oriented Architectures)

• Project "Regina" (bilateral collaboration CISCO/SAP on wireless sensor hardware)  


Wednesday 23 July

- Agenda of the French Presidency for research/innovation, policies and tools to foster innovation and competitiveness. Presentation by Etienne Coffin, Director International Affairs French Ministry of Industry, Directorate General Enterprise (DGE)

- Rountable#2: “The particle accelerators”, moderated by Catherine Trautmann MEP and Roselyne Koskas (Fondation Sophie)

Panelists: Michel Beghin (Insights), Luc Ottavj (UDCast), Kartsen Meinhold (ETSI IRP Group), Massimo Lucchina (Cisco), Bruno Sportisse (INRIA), Armand Sibony (Convergent Capital), Amand Cochet (ASK), Jean-Claude Nataf (SCS), Jacques Bouleistex (Photonics)

Other participants: Vianney Hennes (Orange), Daniel Nabet (Orange), Paul Friedel (Orange), Claude Pin (Intel), Alain Moscowitz (Cecua), Sophie Le Pallec (GS1), Kartsen Menhold (NSN), Cristina Vela (telefonica), Serge Ferre’ (Nokia), Nadege Bouget (Fondation Sophia)

Among the priorities of the French Presidency and the Competitiveness & Telecommunication Council, Mr Coffin mentioned: support to SME’s growth; foster Europe’s competitiveness; put the European Cluster policy at the heart of the EU’s industrial & innovation policy; promote a more sustainable industrial policy; promote electronic communication infrastructure & services. Mr Coffin presented an overview of the Euromed Industry policy as well as of the dense calendar of meetings planned under the Presidency.

During the Roundtable, participants discussed the valorization of innovation and the main difficulties encountered especially by SMEs and young companies. These difficulties range from access to financing, to administrative, political and cultural factors. In order to have a real “acceleration of innovation” it is necessary to create an environment that enables clusters and at the same time empowers them to execute and deliver. Financial resources are only part of the equation for success: operational guidance and an international business network “from birth” are equally instrumental. Bilateral cooperation between SMEs and the development of a risk taking culture should be encouraged, while public research laboratories and Universities should play an active role in technology transfer.

Some of the current rules of the 7FP (e.g. those on composition of consortia) should be simplified.  More broadly, it was stressed that available tools to promote innovation should be made more efficient and quicker. This should be a joint effort at every level: regional, national and European.

- Visit to Orange Labs (live demos led by Paul Friedel, Daniel Nabet)

• Environmental monitoring / smart video

• Intelligent video monitoring / smart city

• RFID : EPC Global – ONS root

- Visit to Amadeus (led by Philippe Chereque, Senior VP Corporate Strategy)


Thursday 24 July (PARIS)

- Demos of fibre services and visit of an end to end optical fiber network (led by France Telecom Group: Vianney Hennes)

- Lunch meeting with Mr Didier Lombard, France Telecom CEO

- Visit to Alcatel-Lucent (Christian Gregoire, Andre Merigoux, Guillaume Mascot)

Presentations and demo on:

• AL’s vision of the telecom world (in attachment)

• Next Generation Access: Building the Fibre Nation (in attachment)

• Fibre to the Home (FTTH): what high definition really means

• Mobile TV (DVB-SH): complete coverage made simple

Main trends and concepts on fibre:

-  Due to high demand for bandwidth (for IP TV, social networking sites, etc.), deep fibre penetration is becoming an enabler of next-generation broadband;

- Fibre deployment has to take into consideration several factors: e.g. local market demographics (it is cheaper and easier to deploy fiber in densly populated cities), competition, local opportunities for cost and risk reduction, regulatory environment. Operators need to adapt their strategies according to these conditions.

- Major challenges are: a ubiquitous rollout of fiber (to avoid a digital gap); ensure fair competition between operators; ensure cooperation between regulators and operators.

- GPON standard: Gigabit Passive Optical Network (passive, as no electricity is required, only light)

- Point-to-point architecture (without splitter) vs fiber splitting (inside the splitter, a system of mirror splits the rays of light).

4. Conclusions

- This trip was a stimulating experience where MEPs could interact directly with the ICT leaders in Sophia Antipolis, arguably Europe’s leading technology pole and model for globally competitive technology research and innovation-driven entrepreneurship.   

- It is clear from this interaction that Europe has an important role to play in establishing an environment conducive to these efforts, but that European policies must take account of the global character and speed of development of ICT technologies and markets.

- For the future, we should pursue similar missions elsewhere in Europe, and encourage strong MEP participation.


This website uses cookies to improve your experience on this site. Some of the cookies we use are essential for parts of the site to operate. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

I accept cookies from this site.