The European Commission has released new guidance for European contracting authorities on the fundamental aspects of innovation procurement: why it is important, who may be interested in it, and how this process can be implemented.
This updated guidance clarifies the concept of innovation procurement and gives concrete examples and practical tools for public buyers to implement procurement strategies that are open to innovators and to help them acquire the new solutions the market can provide. The guidance has been updated to consider and build upon the experience gained through past implementation of innovation procurement.
The guidance’s main changes concern the preliminary market consultation, connection to the innovation ecosystem, intellectual property rights, the Innovation Partnership, and state aid. It will help public buyers navigate the new provisions of the 2014 EU directives on public procurement, as it illustrates how to open up public procurement to innovators, including start-ups and innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It also describes how public procurement procedures can help modernise public services with innovative solutions, and how they can generate economic growth and create jobs. The guidance includes technical advice, especially with regard to the management of intellectual property rights (IPR).
The level of detail in the guidance has been chosen to reach the widest professional public (buyers, policy makers and suppliers), and to trigger new interest in innovation procurement. However, those who are already very knowledgeable about innovation procurement will still find useful references to recent initiatives and examples.
The economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing green and digital transitions have made it increasingly important for public authorities to address new societal challenges and to step up their efforts to deliver a sustainable future. Public buyers are major investors in Europe, currently spending over 14% of the EU’s gross domestic product. By using their purchasing power to opt for goods and services that deliver positive outcomes, they can make a major contribution to sustainable development.
Innovative public procurement can help them do this. The 2014 EU directives on public procurement facilitate the use of innovation public procurement, notably with the creation of specific procedures for innovative projects. This allows for the procurement of better and more efficient solutions that generate environmental and social benefits, ensure better value for money, and open up new business opportunities for innovative companies (especially for start-ups and SMEs).