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Research & Innovation - Funding & Tenders Portal H2020 Online Manual

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Innovation procurement

Innovation procurement can drive innovation from the demand side. This enables faster modernization of public services while opening market opportunities for companies in Europe. Horizon 2020 provides EU funding to start innovation procurements. This funding is targeted at potential buyers of innovative solutions: groups of public procurers, possibly together with other types of procurers that are providing services of public interest and have similar procurement needs (e.g. private, NGO procurers).

Two complementary types of innovation procurement are supported by Horizon 2020:

  • Public Procurement of Innovative solutions (PPI) can be used by procurers when challenges of public interest can be addressed by innovative solutions that are nearly or already in small quantity on the market. PPI can thus be used when there is no need for procurement of new R&D to bring solutions to the market, but a clear signal from a sizeable amount of early adopters/launch customers that they are willing to purchase/deploy the innovative solutions if those can be delivered with the desired quality and price by a specific moment in time. A PPI may still involve conformance testing before deployment.
  • Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) can be used by procurers when there are no near-to-the-market solutions yet that meet all the procurers' requirements and new R&D is needed to get new solutions developed and tested to address the procurement need. PCP can then compare the pros and cons of alternative solutions approaches and de-risk the promising innovations step-by-step via solution design, prototyping, development and first product testing. PCP is a public procurement of R&D services that does not include the deployment of commercial volumes of end-products (see PPI for the latter).

Horizon 2020 provides different types of support for procurers:

  • Coordination and Support actions (CSA) support coordination and networking activities for groups of procurers to investigate the feasibility and/or prepare the ground for concrete future innovation procurements. CSA grants do not provide EU co-financing for an actual procurement.
  • PCP or PPI actions co-finance both the procurement cost for groups of procurers to buy the research, development and validation (PCP) or deployment (PPI) of innovative solutions as well as coordination and networking costs to prepare, manage and follow up such procurements. Minimum 2 public procurers from 2 different EU Member States or countries associated to Horizon 2020 are required in the buyers group, one of which will act as lead procurer to coordinate and lead one joint PCP or PPI procurement or several separate but coordinated PPI procurements for the buyers group. In addition other procurers, e.g. private or NGO, can be part of the buyers group. Other entities (e.g. experts, certification bodies) can participate also in the supporting coordination and networking activities part of the action, except entities that are potential suppliers of solutions for the procurement or have another potential conflict of interest with the procurement (same goes for CSAs). In total there must be minimum 3 participants from 3 different Member States or countries associated to Horizon 2020 in the action. Entities formed by several public procurers from different countries that satisfy the minimum requirements and have a mandate to procure on their behalf can apply alone (as sole participant) for this funding (e.g. European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation- EGTCs, European Research Infrastructure Consortia – ERICs, Central Purchasing Bodies etc.).

For more information about the CSA and PCP and PPI Cofund action instruments, refer to the General Annexes of the Horizon 2020 Work Program (in Particular Annex C, D and E).

Examples of ongoing PCP and PPI projects funded by previous FP7 and CIP programs can be found here.

How to find and apply for relevant calls?

An overview of the 2015 calls for proposals offering Horizon 2020 support for innovation procurement across all work programmes.

To find more detailed information about - and to apply online for - this type of funding in your specific domain of interest, enter the work programme topic of your interest (e.g, PHC-27, ICT-36 etc.) from the "search topics" list.

Support to procurers

Looking for partners? Participate in info days and EU events on innovation procurement in preparation of calls for proposals. Get connected with other procurers and experts from around Europe that are interested and active on innovation procurement via the European Procurement Forum.

National Contact Points (NCPs) in every Member State offer information and guidance in your own language about how to apply for Horizon 2020 funding and may help with partner search. Check if there is an innovation procurement competence/support center in your region or country where you could find information and support.

Is my organisation a public procurer?

Public procurers are organisations that are contracting authorities or contracting entities according to the definition of those terms in the EU public procurement directives 2014/24/EU, 2004/25/EU, 2009/81/EC.

Contracting authority’ means the State, regional or local authorities, bodies governed by public law, associations formed by one or several of such authorities or one or several of such bodies governed by public law (for the full definition, see Article 2(1)(1) of Directive 2014/24/EU). Bodies governed by public law also include entities financed mostly by the State, regional or local authorities, or other bodies governed by public law and entities controlled by those bodies (for the full definition, see Article 2(1)(4) of Directive 2014/24/EU). This includes for example ministries, regions, cities, road management authorities, public hospitals, central purchasing bodies etc.

Contracting entities’ refers to entities operating in specific sectors (such as utilities for water, energy, transport, postal services covered by Directive 2014/25/EU and contracting entities in the field of security covered by Directive 2009/81/EC). They may be contracting authorities, public undertakings or entities operating on the basis of special or exclusive rights (for the full definition, see Article 4 of Directive 2014/25/EU).

For the purpose of Horizon 2020, public procurers includes also entities that are contracting authorities/entities according to the above definition but to which the EU public procurement Directives itself do not apply (e.g. international organisations such as ERICs - European Research Infrastructure Consortia - which are formed by several contracting authorities).