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31 July 2013

Healthcare robots set to assist the elderly

As Europe faces an increasingly aged population, new market demands in care for the elderly are opening. Recognising the need for innovative methods of care, Örebro University in Sweden is has created a telepresence robot, called GiraffPlus. The robot, currently being tested, is expected to be introduced into the homes of seniors in Sweden, Italy and Spain by 2014.

The robot monitors an elderly person’s health, including blood pressure and body temperature, through a network of sensors in the home. Movement is also detected, and sensors can evaluate if someone is lying still for an extended period, or has fallen over. This sensors network is accompanied by a blue, mobile robot called Giraff, which comes with a display and speakerphone.

Through the mobile robot caregivers can see and discuss with their patients, whilst monitoring their vital signs via the sensors. “From a physiotherapist’s perspective, this system provides us with simple and satisfactory ways in which to measure levels of activity and obtain reliable information” said Professor Silvia Coradeschi from the Robotics Research centre at Örebro University.

For more information, click here.


24 July 2013

Path to greener, more cost-effective lighting in cities explored in guide

Lighting accounts for 50 percent of energy consumption in European cities, and up to 60 percent of municipal expenditure. To help cities reduce these figures and meet the targets set out in the Europe 2020 goals, the European Commission has produced the guide "Lighting the Cities: Accelerating the Deployment of Innovative Lighting in European Cities".

Focusing mainly on innovative and eco-friendly Solid State Lighting (SSL) solutions, which utilise light-emitting diodes (LED) to reduce electricity used in lighting by up to 70 percent, the guide looks at the procurement and large-scale roll out of these intelligent systems in European cities. In particular, the guide addresses cities that are still considering their first LED lighting projects or have limited experience in this field.

Recommendations are given on how cities can initiate an SSL deployment, from the preparation of an urban lighting strategy, development of the business case through consideration of immediate cost savings and longer term analysis. Information is also provided on engaging with local businesses and citizens to ensure wide-spread acceptance and success.

To view the guide, click here.


18 July 2013

Competition held for innovative solutions

Across the UK, cities face similar challenges in the areas of energy, data and transportation. The Technology Strategy Board, a UK agency that aims to accelerate economic growth through driving innovation in the country, is investing up to £5 million in a competition to stimulate solutions in these areas. The competition is backed by the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), a body which uses public procurement to drive innovation.

There are two phases to the competition. In the first phase up to £1m is available, with contracts awarded to organisations to explore solutions and develop proposals for prototyping and implementation. Successful organisations will receive a development contract up to £100,000. In the second phase, cities will be asked to test the devised solutions.

Based on the quality of proposals developed in the first phase of the competition, successful organisations will attract a further development contract to implement the proposals in the selected cities. The competition is open to individual companies or organisations from the private and public sectors. The competition opens on 1 July 2013, with a registration deadline of 7 August 2013 and applications deadline of 14 August 2013.

For more information, click here.


16 July 2013

German competence centre for innovation procurement launched

The total volume of public procurement in Germany amounts to around €300 billion per year. Obviously, this represents a major potential for fostering innovation. By purchasing cutting-edge products and new technological solutions, governments not only save money and energy but also provide industry with the impetus to put innovative products and services on the market. As of 1st of March 2013, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWI) has set up a national German competence centre for innovation procurement.

In addition to providing specialised training and every day information sharing, the competence centre is focusing on piloting pre-commercial procurement activities in Germany. The website will also provide good practices for PCP and PPI procurement. Furthermore, the competence centre will act as a virtual market place in which German procurers can express their innovation needs and communicate with potential suppliers.

In co-operation with the Federal Association for Materials Management, Purchasing and Logistics (BME), the Economics Ministry will hold the annual "Contracting Authorities Day", at which public sector contracting authorities can discuss current procurement issues. At the event, the "Innovation schafft Vorsprung" prize ("innovation creates a lead") will be awarded for the most innovative procurement procedure and/or the procurement of an innovative product. The Economics Ministry invites contracting authorities to join the competition by submitting exemplary projects.

To visit the website, click here.


16 July 2013

Introducing the PPI Platform

The Public Procurement of Innovation (PPI) Platform is now live at The Platform is a brand new system that aims to make public procurement of innovation a wide-spread reality in Europe.

With Europe’s economy facing serious challenges with regard to growth and competitiveness, the need to find innovative and sustainable solutions is more important than ever before. Procurement is a powerful tool to stimulate the market to offer innovative and sustainable solutions. The Platform has been developed to help public authorities, procurers, policy makers, researchers and other stakeholders harness the power of PPI. Custom-made to meet users' needs, the PPI Platform is comprised of three elements.

The website is the first port of call for all things related to PPI and pre-commercial procurement (PCP). It contains the latest news on PPI and PCP developments and events, the European legal framework, policy support and more specifically, it will offer the latest updates on PPI and PCP related projects.

The Procurement Forum is a space for procurers and related stakeholders to discuss, share and connect, allowing them to post comments and upload documents, images or videos. Users can create groups, which are ideal for developing and coordinating projects involving numerous partners.

The Resource Centre provides a centralised database for PPI guidance, gathering useful documents in one place. Resources include national and European policy and strategy documents, tools, case studies, details of projects and initiatives, and reports.

The platform has been developed by ICLEI with support from the European Commission, and in partnership with PIANOo – the Dutch Public Procurement Expertise Centre, REC – the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe and IWT – the Flemish Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology.

Feedback on the platform is welcomed. The platform is set out to create a user experience that is rewarding, informative, and enjoyable - any input that helps to achieve this is most welcome. All features are fully functioning, but in case of any issues or feedback please contact us at:

To visit the platform, click here.


12 July 2013

EC support to Innovation Procurement

The 2012 Spring European Council agreed that efforts must be stepped up to make demand-led innovation a main driver of Europe’s R&D policy. In this context public authorities have a very significant role to play in stimulating growth and jobs via the use of public procurement of innovation.

Considering that 19% of EU GDP is spent by different levels of government, public bodies and utility service providers on procurement of goods, works and services, public procurement of innovation offers tremendous potential. The procurement of innovative products/ services can be a key driver of modernising the public sector. It can also accelerate the market uptake of innovative products/ services by finding first customers for innovative companies.

However, the European Public Sector innovation scoreboard 2013 shows that the public sector does not sufficiently exploit its potential as a driver of business innovation through public procurement. Public procurers need to change their traditional cautious stance and trigger industry’s interest in developing innovative solutions based on specific needs of public procurers. At the same time, enabling innovative companies and particularly SMEs to find their first clients is important. Both pre-commercial procurement as well as public procurement of innovative solutions are methods for doing innovation procurement.

In its Innovation Union Communication the EC calls on Member States and regions to set aside budget for innovation procurement equivalent to at least EUR 10 billion per year.

Some Member States have already adopted legislation in order to foster the development of innovation procurement. A few categories have been identified:

1. Binding or indicative targets at national level for innovation procurement, e.g. Spain

2. Programmes at national level to procure innovation, e.g.UK

3. Developing guidance and PPI action plans, e.g. Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.

There are also still reasons why innovation procurement is not already taking place on a larger scale:

- Public authorities have no or the wrong incentive to buy R&D or innovative solutions from a new company.

- Public procurement markets are fragmented in Europe, making it more difficult to reach critical mass and missing opportunities for fostering more standardizsed or interoperable solutions.

The EC itself has provided financial support to pilot projects in innovation procurement since 2009 with significant amounts. The EC intends to give financial support to innovation procurement on a larger scale in Horizon 2020 projects, starting from 2014.

For more information, click here.


11 July 2013

Smart@Fire uses PCP to develop next-generation Smart Personal Protective Systems for firefighters

For firefighters, being thrust into dangerous situations at a moment’s notice is part of the job. To maintain their safety, firefighters need to monitor, measure, interpret and act on their environment. The Smart@Fire project aims to use Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) to finance companies and researchers to develop Smart Personal Protective Systems for firefighters.

These systems will combine safety and comfort, and be applicable to a wide-range of possible situations. They will have the ability to determine the firefighter's position in relation to colleagues and hazards; provide communication with the firefighter's coordinating officer (usually at a distance); and measure environmental parameters and the firefighters’ vital functions.

The tendering procedure will begin with market consultation sessions between technology suppliers and procurers. The next phase will be pre-commercial procurement, in which working prototypes will be developed and tested. Finally, cross-border EU procurement will be implemented, which will see the product purchased on a large scale.

For more information, click here.


10 July 2013

EcoQUIP launch collaborative innovation procurement project

The aim of the EcoQUIP project is to improve the efficiency, quality and environmental sustainability of healthcare through innovation procurement. Working with the EcoQUIP coordination team, the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust (UK) is taking an innovative approach to the procurement of a new catering service.

The Trust consulted internal stakeholders and consumer organisations to determine the needs of staff, patients and visitors, and has developed outcome-based requirements for ‘innovative, people centred, low carbon catering’. In December 2012, the Trust launched a Market Sounding, inviting suppliers from all parts of the catering supply chain to respond. The response was encouraging with the supply chain reporting that new and emerging catering service models and innovative technologies have the potential to offer benefits in terms of patient outcomes, efficiency, quality, sustainability and carbon reduction.

Following further engagement with the supply chain at a market information and consultation day, the project team is now preparing a pro-innovation procurement strategy before launching the formal procurement process.

For more information, click here.


9 July 2013

Nordic countries spur innovation

Nordic Prime Ministers have identified GPP as an essential means to encourage green growth, citing that public procurement of goods and services in the region amounts to 16 - 20 percent of GDP. In an effort to capitalise and expand on this, experts from national procurement institutions have conducted a study that looks into ways of making strategic use of GPP to create new markets for Nordic environmental innovation.

“GPP is an important political instrument for the Nordic countries in the search for innovative solutions that limit negative effects on the environment and contribute to green growth,” says Sven-Olof Ryding, Managing Director of the Swedish Environmental Management Council and member of the expert group. "We want to market the Nordic region as being at the forefront of GPP development."

The GPP project will identify pragmatic procurement methods and a joint procurement initiative, suggest adjustments to the regulatory frameworks in the Nordic countries and take a more visionary approach to ensure that GPP will be an important driver of future growth. Initially the project will work to foster closer links between the demand and supply side of the market, allowing public procurers to shape the market towards innovation.

For more information, click here.


2 July 2013

Provisional agreement reached on Public Procurement Directives

On 26 June 2013 the European Parliament and the Council reached an agreement on the revision of the EU Public Procurement Directives (the ‘classic’ and the ‘utilities’ directives). The agreement is still provisional, however the final agreement should be simply a formality and require only minor changes to current drafts. The legislators strove to improve flexibility in the procurement process for both the public and private sector while at the same time giving greater importance to quality and innovation.

Core changes to the new directives include the principle of the ‘most economically advantageous tender’ (MEAT) becoming the standard award criterion, replacing the criteria of lowest price (this includes an emphasis on quality, environmental considerations, social aspects or innovative characteristics, transparency in sub-contraction and stronger rules against abnormally low bids); a new tool to issue a call for tenders without specifying a product, but rather a problem that needs to be solved, giving room for discussion and cooperation between the public and private sector; and tender documents eligible for EU-wide bidding will be made available in all EU languages. Tenders from national databases will also have to be made available to eligible bidders.

The agreement package must be approved by the Council and then by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee – both of which are planned for this month (July 2013). The final vote will take place in autumn. The directives will then have to be adopted into national law by EU Member States. Only when this national legislation comes into force will the new rules be applied in practice. To read the text proposed by the European Commission and the amendments proposed by the European Parliament, download Marc Tarrabella’s (Rappoteur) first reading report.

For more information, click here.