Monday, March 29, 2010 at the forum of the debate on public procurement and innovation

When it comes to public procurement and innovation, a lot of questions do arise. In order to tackle them, more than 150 experts got together in Brussels during two days, taking part at the Conference "Promoting Innovation Through Public Procurement: Best Practice and Networking" organized by the Directorate General for Industry and Entrepreneurship of the European Commission on March 23rd and 24th.

As we already posted about a couple of weeks ago, has had the opportunity to take part in the Conference and debate on procurement and innovation. It has been a very good opportunity for us to know better about the main issues brought on tendering and innovation and which are the actual needs and concerns of the main actors involved, whether they are European public procurers, companies or organisations in charge for their counselling such as EEN members, experts, decision and policy makers, or information services on tendering opportunities with public sector like

On the introduction of the session Deputy Director General DG Enterprise & Industry, Madame Françoise Le Bail, already addressed some the main challenges faced by the European Union in promoting innovation through public procurement in order to ensure better public services, supporting innovation for companies and levering public purchasing.

The European Commission has set the target to dedicate 1% of the total amount of commercial opportunities channelled through public tendering in the EU to public procurement of innovation, which represents around 20B€ per year. This target might seem "modest" when compared with US target of around 15% or the even higher target of 40% set by China but everybody agreed this is an important step and a good beginning in the path to be taken.

Issues such as public contracting authorities' aversion to risk when facing procurement of innovation, their responsibility in those processes when something goes wrong, legal issues, fragmentation of demand or issues related to IP rights on procurement of innovation were some of the interesting ideas which came up at the Conference.

Pre-commercial Procurement was one of the main issues of the Conference, as a way to stimulate public tendering of innovation, together with Green Public Procurement, e-Procurement, social considerations, variants or technical dialogue in public procurement.

In relation to PCP, Lieve Bos from DG INFSO made an overview of the support mechanism for PCP put forward by the Commission, with some projects which are currently in place such as P3ITS, PreCo financed under Call 4 of the ICT FP7 Work Programme for 2009, RAPIDE or MKW, as well as the future launch of 2010 Calls for further EC support for PCP networks and cross-border pilots.

The Conference was also the occasion for networking between the delegates, who had the opportunity to share best practices on public procurement and present their projects. Apart from PCP, some other networks and projects were present at the Conference such as euroPROC, SCI-Network, LCB Healthcare Network, ENPROTEX, APOLLON, Buy Smart, PRO-EE, Save Energy, Smart SPP, or the Project "Urbain-Loi" street from the DG OIB.

One of the things which was particularly interesting for was the possibility to have a first hand point of view about what are the main issues and concerns companies, and specially SMEs, face when trying to access public procurement market, either locally or at EU level.

Representatives from different Enterprise Europe Network partners described to the delegates an overview of such issues, depicting a pan-European view coming from partners from a very varied origins representing their EEN branches such as ACC1O Competitivitat per l'empresa, the Grenoble Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bayern Innovativ, Chamber of Commerce of Finland, ABZ Bayern, City of Bradford, Promofirenze, EISC Southampton, Cardiff University or Berlin Partner.

As you can see, there were a lot of interesting networks and projects represented, and hope we haven't missed any of them..., but if it is the case, just let us know!

One of the main concerns, specially when talking about SMEs and their access to public procurement, was related to below EU thresholds tendering, where we got to know more about some very interesting initiatives such as PIANOo, ETIS or ALPPS. As some of you already know, one of Euroalert challenges now is offering to all our clients, partners and subscribers the high quality information and tools already available for EU procurement, also for below EU thresholds tendering.

Any tip or help in identifying public sources of tenders and PSI contents susceptible to be re-used will be very welcomed, as is highly involved in initiatives related to Open Data and the re-use of PSI specifically in the field of public procurement.

It has been a very valuable forum for as we have been able to know more about the needs of agencies, organisations and companies in their access to public procurement. As you all know Euroalert offers an innovative and cost-effective gateway to European public procurement by publishing all the calls for tenders, awards and other announcements published by the OJEU and the possibility to publish any content in any other website.

But and its sister brand 10ders Observatory has also developed a full set of tools which allow companies and specially SMEs to get access to cost-effective high quality market-intelligence reports about public procurement to improve their performance in this highly competitive market. This kind of fora will help us in knowing better about the needs and keeping on developing always more powerful tools on public procurement information.

Thanks again to DG Industry & Entrepreneurship and specially to all the people in the organization of the Conference for giving us this opportunity to take part in this successful event!

As a souvenir of the Conference, here are a few pics of the event. Lot of work in two days! Good luck in their projects to all participants and hope to see you all in a future occasion!

Note: updated April 21st. Presentations already available at EC Enterprise website.

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