With public procurement accounting for 16% of EU GDP, public authorities have powerful means of stimulating private investment in research and innovation (R&I). At the same time procurement for R&I opens up opportunities to improve the quality of public services offered to citizens through the deployment of innovative goods and services.
Business investment in R&D&I is strongly influenced by market size, market dynamism and the level of performance requested by customers. With public procurement accounting for 16% of EU GDP, public authorities have powerful means of stimulating private investment in research and innovation.
When public authorities issue a call for tender, they can specify functional requirements which allow firms to propose innovative solutions. They can thus provide lead markets for new technologies, while at the same time optimizing the efficiency and performance of the products and services that they acquire.
To bring about this change, awareness needs to be raised amongst policymakers and public authorities of the possibilities offered by the new European public procurement legislative package. Furthermore, practical tools need to be developed as well as mutual learning between Member States, stakeholders and procurement officials.
The Commission published at the beginning of 2007 a guide on innovative solutions in public procurement comprising good practices, notably for the integration of technology requirements into tendering procedures.
Where in some cases the technology needed is still immature and the R&D needed is at an early stage in the innovation pathway it may be useful to separate the procurement of R&D from that of the product and services.
The Commission adopted at the end of 2007 a Communication on pre-commercial procurement which is defined therein as a procurement of R&D services which is exempt from the provisions of the public procurements directives and does not constitute State and outlined a possible approach to pre-commercial procurement involving a multistage competitive process.
The Commission has also supported an OMC-net project on public technology procurement which aims to provide examples of technology procurement address legal issues and provide a practical guide.
In 2008, the Commission set up an expert group to address the need for guidance in managing risks associated with procurement of technology. More specifically, the group was established to review recent cases of technology procurement and identify emerging best practices. The final report submitted by the Group in 2009, describes the various risks that public procurers face, identifies existing risk management practices and draws recommendations that could help overcome this key barrier in the procurement of innovation.