Great presentation and demonstration from Piero Milani from Infocamere about BRITE, which is an EU funded effort to bring the Business Registrars of Europe together. The mission is to establish a framework for the interoperability between the Business Registration Authorities of Europe.

The project that Piero was talking about is a pilot that they have developed with the assistance of Adobe. Full disclosure: using CoreFiling technology to make the XBRL part happen. The problem that Piero and his colleagues have been tackling is to do with government and local authority procurement. One of the requirements in most official tenders is for tenderers to provide proof (available only from their company registrar) that they have the appropriate legal standing and, further, that they have a certain amount of revenue or assets available to them.

The problem is that there is a different company registrar in each of the 27 states (that’s countries for our North American readers) of the European Union. And something like 18 official languages. So how does a company in Sweden bid for work in Italy and not be indirectly discriminated against, because the government agency in Italy doesn’t know anything about the legal situation (or the language) in Sweden?

Their proof of concept (covering 5 countries at present) is a good example of collaboration and a great example of the type of problem that interactive data, supported by agreed and well-defined metadata can solve. And this is a very different environment to the typical XBRL examples you’ve probably heard.

A number of company registrars across Europe, including in Italy, are mandating or offering a mechanism to allow small companies to file their accounts in XBRL. Companies House in the UK have received more than 100,000 such filings in the first year of the operation of their system to accept XBRL-based e-filings.This pilot leverages the availability (or future availability) of that information.

So the BRITE pilot allows a company tendering for some work in a different part of Europe to apply to their own company registrar for a statement about their finances and legal standing. The BRITE mechanism uses an agreed vocabulary (and a single PDF document) that gets filled in by the home company registrar, for provision to the government agency that is running the procurement.

The PDF contains summary information (with labels available in the language of the procuring agency) as well as an official extract from the registrar’s system, proving the legal standing. In addition (this is the really good bit) they provide an extract from the XBRL filing that the tendering company has made and provide that in a read-only form in the PDF. So turnover, profit, assets etc are set out in the form. Click on a drop-down and you can change the language of the labels. Click a button and you can extract the data out in XBRL format.

Simple. Compelling. Solves a problem that exists today. More power to the BRITE project. Congrats!