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30 December 2013

State and local government overcome limitations to spur innovation in the United States

Frustrated with the complexity and rigidness of federal procurement laws, Philadelphia and North Carolina (United States of America) have set up initiatives to encourage suppliers to develop innovative goods, rewarding them with guaranteed government contracts. The set up marks a win-win situation for both parties: suppliers can innovate with financial risk minimised, and procurers receive an innovative product they were lacking.

Philadelphia’s Fast FWD initiative will select ten entrepreneurs to develop innovative projects that enhance public safety, while North Carolina has launched a new innovation centre, which will allow the state to pilot innovative goods and work more closely with suppliers before committing to large-scale purchases. Suppliers in the information technology sector have been widely supportive of the centre.

Former Oregon CIO and procurement director Dugan Petty believes that the innovation centre will reduce costs and lead to better results, "[At present] there’s no opportunity for an entrepreneur or an innovator to really work with the city to first make sure we are defining the problem correctly, and that we also have access and exposure to the range of potential solutions. This new approach is helping to evolve procurement technology in a way that keeps up with what’s out there on the industry side.”

For more information, click here.


23 December 2013

Innovative equipment reduces number of Vaxjo deliveries by 50 percent

The use of smart logistics equipment has enabled Vaxjo municipality (Sweden) to cut its delivery traffic in half, saving the council money and reducing the amount of harmful emissions released. Optimising the delivery system has led to the number of different distribution companies used falling from 73 in 2009 to just one.

Today all suppliers send goods to a distribution depot, where the frequency of deliveries is based on need (groceries, for example, are delivered more often than stationery).

A web-based ordering system provides information on upcoming purchases to the distribution centre, allowing staff to plan more effectively. Delivery routes have also been made more efficient, with the town separated into two delivery zones.

For more information, click here.


19 December 2013

New web-application to help South Africa stamp out procurement corruption

In an effort to eliminate tender fraud and procurement corruption, an innovative cloud computing application that ensures transparency and security in the procurement process has been adopted in South Africa. The paperless, web-based tool has already been embraced in the country’s private sector to make procurement more efficient, and to enhance the fairness of supplier competition.

The “TenderSure” application provides an autonomous ranking and evaluation of bid data, and seeks to minimise the opportunity for human interference as far as possible. It also offers a number of decision support tools. On average, the programme has led to an audited 15 percent improvement in maintenance costs and services tendered for.

Werner Coetzee, CEO of Sentigol, the company behind the procurement application, explained the system: "It provides an audit-trail, and is very user friendly. The system automatically ranks all evaluation criteria; therefore the potential to manipulate has been removed, and the transparency of how you reached a conclusion increased.” Currently tender fraud costs the African nation around R30 billion annually.

For more information, click here.


17 December 2013

EcoProcura 2014 looks to take procurement forward

Sustainability, innovation and cost efficiency in procurement will be the focus of the 2014 EcoProcura conference, which is set to take place in the City of Ghent (Belgium) from 24-26 September. The conference will provide a thought-provoking programme that will empower local authorities to improve their procurement processes. EcoProcura 2014 is the ninth conference of this series and will engage with procurers from all levels of government, policy-makers, suppliers and representatives from the European Commission and European Parliament.

Specifically, the conference will explore obstacles against mainstreaming sustainable procurement, what the new European Public Procurement Directives mean for sustainable procurement and procurement of innovation in practice, how public procurement can stimulate innovation, and what legal and practical aspects should be considered when undertaking a dialogue between public procurers and business. Interaction will also be a major part of this year’s conference, allowing participants to share their opinions, experiences and ideas.

Plenary sessions will provide a dialogue between speakers and participants, break-out sessions will focus on specific procurement processes, and the Market Lounge will see roundtables of six to eight people discuss challenges. An exhibition area will also be present with material on various procurement initiatives. This edition will also see the first “Meet the Buyers” event, in which public procurers will have the opportunity to meet leading business representatives in an informal setting.

For more information, click here.


12 December 2013

Georg Salvamoser Prize to be awarded for innovative renewable energy solutions

The Georg Salvamoser award recognises pioneering and innovative projects that have contributed to a transition to 100 percent renewable energy, and as such is one of the most valuable environmental awards in Germany. 2014 will be the third year that the prize has been awarded.

Each application will be assessed by a jury consisting of experts from political, economic and environmental spheres. The prize ceremony will take place in March 2014, with an award of €50,000. The criteria for applications include aspects such as innovation and originality in the development of the projects, but also a critical engagement with the problems and obstacles in their implementation and how they were dealt with.

Named for the late pioneer of solar technology and citizen of Freiburg (Germany) Georg Salvamoser, the prize is open to individuals, groups and associations, companies, institutions and municipalities in German-speaking countries or areas.

For more information, click here [in German].


10 December 2013

UK Government report looks at relationship between public procurement & manufacturing

Public procurement in the United Kingdom must take a complete life-cycle approach, including implementing social and environmental considerations, in order to have a positive impact on British manufacturing, concludes a new report commissioned by the UK Government Office for Science. The report takes stock of how public procurement influences manufacturing, and examines ways in which it could further support it.

Other conclusions include the need to revaluate the methods used in supplier selection to make them more flexible and better capable of encompassing broad and changing objectives. Procurers’ ability to articulate unmet needs is also important to better foster innovation. Greater inter-governmental cooperation in procurement is recommended as a means to solve complex, multi-faceted public policy problems.

Increased sustainability, particularly a move towards a circular economy in which the scarcity of natural resources is appreciated, would create a more resilient economy, states the report. It goes on to say that manufacturing in key sectors such as defence, healthcare, energy and environmental technologies are more likely to be stimulated by public spending, meaning that the effects of enhanced public procurement are unlikely to be spread evenly.

To read the report in full, click here.


4 December 2013

First in series of trainings looks at innovative procurement in theory and practice

The first of a series of trainings on public procurement of innovation (PPI) was held on 28 November 2013 in The Hague (the Netherlands). Participants, comprised of public procurement officers and policy makers of public authorities and ministries from across Europe, were presented with the theory behind PPI as well as practical case studies from the Netherlands and other EU countries. The training was organised under the auspices of the PPI platform project and received positive feedback from participants.

All aspects of PPI were addressed, including the determination of solid selection and evaluation criteria, as well as multiple pre-procurement aspects. Tools that support public authorities to carry out PPI were introduced and specially developed training material was handed out. The training was opened by Wouter Stolwijk, director of PIANOo, followed by Saskia Ploeg, who gave an explanation of the theoretical framework of PPI and an introduction to the upcoming PPI guides. Gaynor Whyles complemented this with practical examples and deepened the concept of 'forward committed procurement'.

Marieke van Putten discussed different policy instruments to stimulate PPI, using the Dutch public procurement of innovation policy programme as reference. In the afternoon, participants applied their new theoretical knowledge in a workshop led by Floris den Boer, which resulted in lively discussion. Participants' input on the training material will be used to further develop the training package. A second training will be held in summer 2014. Details will be announced on the PPI platform training page. The training was conducted by PIANOo, the Dutch public procurement expertise centre, and was developed by the project partners of the PPI platform, which is coordinated by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.

For more information, click here.


3 December 2013

Horizon 2020 offers funding opportunities for PPI & PCP activities

A range of funding opportunities for PCP and PPI related projects will be available under the EU's Horizon 2020 programme, which runs from 2014 - 2020. Horizon 2020, which focuses on research and innovation, will replace current funding programmes PF7 and CIP. Specifically, sub-programmes LEIT (Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies), Societal Challenges and Excellent Science will provide funding for innovative procurement.

Two calls for PCP and PPI are expected in the 2014 - 2015 ICT LEIT work programme, the first opening in December 2013 and closing in April 2014. The draft work programme, currently under discussion in EU Member States, looks at co-financing of joint cross-border PCPs carried out by consortia of public procurers, and co-financing of joint cross-border PPIs. The co-financing rates are 70 percent and 20 percent respectively.

The cross-border PCPs will focus on robotics for healthcare, environmental monitoring and public safety; smart system integration; cloud computing and more. The cross-border PPIs will look at boosting public sector productivity and innovation through cloud computing services; services for National Research and Education Networks, and other topics. Further funding opportunities for networks of public procurers will also be available in the fields of lighting solutions, and boosting the take-up of innovative information and communication technology (ICT) solutions.

For more information, click here.