Archive for January, 2008

EC ‘Lead Markets Initiative’ – procurement and standards to assist industry!

January 17, 2008

Verrry interesting! The European Commission is proposing to unlock market potential in a first batch of six important markets – eHealth, protective textiles, sustainable construction, recycling, bio-based products and renewable energies.

These EU markets have a turnover of more than € 120 billion and 1.9 million jobs. The initiative aims to grow turnover to € 300 billion and 3 million jobs by 2020.

The “Lead Markets Initiative for Europe” (LMI) will foster the emergence of these markets by improving legislation, encouraging public procurement and developing interoperable standards. European enterprises will profit from fair and better chances of entering new fast growing world-wide markets with a competitive advantage as lead producers. LMI would also bring visible advantage for Europe’s consumers.

An EC spokesman said: “Europe must develop innovation friendly markets in a more targeted way, creating conditions to facilitate the marketing of innovative products and services. The LMI has identified promising emerging markets in which the European Union has the potential to become world leader and where coordinated action is urgently needed“.

The LMI initiative calls for the urgent coordination of policies through ambitious action plans:

§          eHealth: ICT solutions for patients, medical services and payment institutions. Standardisation, for instance of various information exchange formats, certifications of systems and large-scale demonstration projects will help to cope better with the arising problems from an “ageing” Europe.

§          Sustainable construction: Buildings account for the largest share of the total EU final energy consumption (42%) and produce about 35% of all greenhouse emissions, so developing sustainable solutions is crucial. Orientation towards innovative solutions and cutting administrative burdens are some of the proposed measures.

§          Technical textiles for intelligent personal protective clothing and equipment (PPE): The current PPE market in the EU is estimated at 10 billion euros. Spill-over effects from faster growing innovations in PPE to other market segments of the textile sector would considerably increase the economic impact of the lead market and the competitiveness of the entire textile sector. §          Innovative use of bio-based products: Europe is currently well placed in this market, building on established knowledge and a leading technological and industrial position. Perceived uncertainty about product properties and weak market transparency however hinder the fast take-up of products. Communication, standardisation, labelling and certification will be addressed.

§          Recycling: This sector has a turnover of € 24 billion and employs 500,000. There is significant market potential, but barriers to market development need to be addressed.  

§          Renewable energy: This sector is held back by high costs, low demand, market fragmentation and administrative and market barriers. A flexible market-based European framework should ensure that 20% of energy demand will be met by renewables. Accelerating innovation in low carbon technologies and removal of planning and certification barriers are crucial.

The initiative has sparked our interest at three levels.

It focuses on a ‘competitive, demand-driven approach’ and avoids ‘picking winners’. The EC states that it will avoid favouring specific companies. But surely it has just picked six industries! These are the first batch. What is in the next batch?

§          The EC will use public procurement and standards to support these industries. We note EC’s track record in this field, especially the flouting of international procurement protocols and using standards as a competitive weapon.

§          Will the EC’s powerful subsidies regime be aligned with these industries?   For background, go to

Working holiday in Australia?

January 2, 2008

In Australia, there are couple of Thinkers-in-Residence programs that bring in experts from interstate and overseas to inject fresh perspectives on urban land form, industry development, environment, governance systems etc.

We propose extending the concept to regional cities and towns, because they too can deliver great lifestyles and a sense of community. But they don’t have much clout or recognition.  

And we propose inviting our Cockatoo members – across 33 countries – to present themselves as experts.  More on this in a moment. 

The program we are putting in place has three steps. 

1. The local council or development agency in Australia identifies the specific expertise required e.g. entrepreneurship, investment attraction, infrastructure alignment, international tourism, education, environmental management, water technology, social welfare, re-invention strategies, local government finance. 

2.  We prepare the submission to the appropriate funding agencies.

3.  We call for expressions of interest from our Cockatoo network, and provide the local agency with 4-5 nominations (mix of local and overseas) from which to choose. 

We envisage the experts spending 4-6 weeks in the region. 

If you are interested in being on our consultants register, you need to
join the Cockatoo network 
– send us your CV, together with 50 words on your skill areas and the sorts of insights that could bring to an Australian community. 

We are THE experts in international networking
– for more information, contact us at or ring 61-2-62317261