Horizon 2020 (H2020) is encouraging creativity to overcome some of the world’s largest humanitarian challenges. Horizon Prizes, or 'challenge' prizes, offer cash rewards to whoever can most effectively meet a defined challenge. These awards work in contrast to other innovation awards, as previous innovations cannot be submitted – only new solutions are judged.
Firstly, a technical or social challenge with no identifiable solution is defined, and a cash reward is offered for a breakthrough solution. A criterion is set with information outlining what the solution must be capable of achieving, but complete freedom is given to those willing to tackle the challenge. Previously set challenges include solutions to overcome limitations of long-distance optical transmission systems, and mobile solutions that will enable users to measure and analyse food intake. Presently, a cash prize of €3 million is offered to those who can improve air quality in cities.
March 2014 saw the European Commission award its first challenge prize worth €2 million to the German biopharmaceutical company, CureVac GmbH. The company’s inventors worked to help ensure that vaccines remain stable at an ambient temperature. This progress works toward the goal of making life-saving vaccines more accessible to people across the globe.
For more information, visit the European Commission Research and Innovation website.
The US government, in response to cries for updated citizen-government interactive platforms, has launched the US Digital Service (USDS). The new platform will counsel government agencies on how to embrace digital service delivery, working towards a better outcome for citizens while adhering to federal policy.
One of the largest obstacles US government agencies face is working in a digital age, but with archaic, pre-digital guidelines and resources in regards to citizen interaction and public procurement. USDS advocates for modern technology principles such as user-centered design, and has produced a Digital Services Playbook to guide agencies’ digital development. The White House, meanwhile, has published the TechFAR Handbook, highlighting flexibilities in existing Federal Acquisition Regulation regarding technology. Both publications presently have an open call for content review by citizens. The government has also produced the Digital Government Strategy document, with goals including Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service and Delivering an Efficient, Effective, and Accountable Government.
Code for America has similarly been working on encouraging, mapping, and spreading procurement innovation. The organisations’ work focuses on change at a grass-roots level, partnering with cities to explore new solutions in government procurement. Working in a bottom-up methodology, organisations such as these compliment the work implemented by the government, resulting in a more thorough and comprehensive network of digital initiatives covering multiple tiers of government, citizen agendas, and procurement.
For more information, visit the Department of State Digital Government Strategy website.
The case for eco-innovation is put forward in a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report, The Business Case for Eco-Innovation, developed as part of the UNEP Eco-innovation Project. The report, intended for a private sector audience, addresses companies that are confronted by growing market and regulatory pressures in the face of dwindling resources and environmental degradation. Providing contemporary examples of companies that have benefited from eco-innovation through accessing new markets, the report outlines methods for enhancing resilience, technical capacity, and increasing profitability.
With specific emphasis on the relevance of eco-innovation for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the report establishes adaptability and flexibility as being the key to the new consumer-driven demand for eco-innovation. "Unless a company is looking beyond its gates to assess sustainability risks and opportunities throughout its value chain, and in cooperation with key partners, it will be incapable of unlocking the transformational potential to deal with growing external pressures," says Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director.
Supporting the affirmations of the UNEP report is a recently produced Policy paper on eco-innovation and Policy recommendations for boosting eco-innovation by INTERREG IVC. The INTERREG IVC programme aims to improve the effectiveness of local and regional policies and instruments through the exchange of experiences among partners in the field.
For more information, download The Business Case for Eco-Innovation.
The Procuring Building Innovative Solutions (PROBIS) project, which aims to increase the energy efficiency and sustainability of European public buildings, is calling for public authorities and and companies to get involved. PROBIS is seeking members to join the project Buyers Group, and to potentially participate in project activities.
Led by Environment Park in Turin (Italy), the project is supported by ICLEI with targeted dissemination and networking activities linked to the Public Procurement of Innovation (PPI) Platform. Four PPI tenders will be launched within the project in three different European Union Member States. The tenders will focus on building innovative solutions in the following areas: envelope components (ENV); energy generation and distribution systems (EGD); and energy management systems (EMS). The selected solutions will be implemented and tested inside four pilot buildings in Miskolc (Hungary), Torino (Italy), Borlänge (Sweden) and the Lombardy Region (Italy). Different building typologies will be covered, including office buildings and social housing of different ages, to provide scope for replication of solutions at EU level.
Members of the Buyers Group will receive periodic updates of the project’s progress, have the opportunity to visit a PROBIS pilot project, and be involved in shaping the legal framework for PPI. Importantly, members are invited to attend dedicated technical seminars and dissemination events, and join the discussions on sustainable construction and shaping the project outcomes.
“PEPPOL is a rising star,” says Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of the Digital Agenda for Europe, in a recent blog on the increased use of Pan-European Public Procurement Online (PEPPOL) - an IT infrastructure enabling businesses and government institutions to improve communication during procurement processes. Kroes goes on to say: “The efforts of […] early adopters of PEPPOL and GS1 [the organisation that develops and maintains measures for supply chains] standards will result in substantial savings, efficiency improvements, and greater supplier enablement. It is a big step forward for interoperable public-sector services.”
Since 2008, the platform has been developing technology standards to streamline electronic public procurement in Europe. In 2012, PEPPOL morphed into OpenPEPPOL, an international member association responsible for the development and maintenance of PEPPOL specifications, services and implementations. Today, use of the platform and other output from the association is steadily increasing: in Norway, over 2.7 million electronic invoices have been exchanged using PEPPOL, with 1.4 million within the first three months of 2014; Swedish partners are employing PEPPOL-based solutions in connecting Swedish organisations with European economic operators and public sector organisations; while in the United Kingdom, the Department of Health has included PEPPOL and GS1 standards within the National Health Service (NHS) e-procurement strategy.
With its foundation in the Digital Agenda for Europe, PEPPOL is part of a wider EU strategy on procurement. “PEPPOL and other EU digitisation programs have the power to unleash enormous opportunity for the entire region,” says Kroes. “Procurement will grow to be more transparent and connected, spawning collaborative innovation across supply chains on a European level. Some estimates peg the savings of e-procurement at €50 billion per year.”
With the 2014 edition of the Public Procurement of Innovation Award presented to Erasmus Medical Centre Rotterdam, applications for the next edition of the award have opened. The award aims to recognise successful public procurement practices that have been used to purchase innovative, more effective and efficient products or services.
Across Europe, public authorities in conjunction with private sector suppliers are procuring impressive innovations that have the power to improve public services. Often, the purchasing of these innovative goods and services lacks recognition in a broader context. As well as providing a boost to the procurers and suppliers involved, recognising the work of innovative public procurers can encourage others to engage in public procurement of innovation (PPI) and pre-commercial procurement (PCP), providing a positive knock-on effect for Europe.
The winning entry will receive a trophy for innovation procurement excellence, together with the title “European innovation procurement of the year”, and a case study published on the Procurement of Innovation Platform. This year’s award was present by Bonifacio Garcia-Porras, DG Enterprise and Industry, European Commission at the EcoProcura conference 2014.
For more information on applying, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
To stimulate the uptake of public procurement of innovation (PPI) and pre-commercial procurement (PCP), the European Commission funding programme Horizon 2020 has released a budget of €130 - 140 million. Funding for PPI and PCP activities has been embedded across various work programmes.
Through this money, the EU intends to bring together consortia of procurers to prepare and undertake PPI or PCP, and to cooperate on identifying opportunities and preparing for future PPI and PCP activities. Support for procurers can be found in programmes related to European Research Infrastructures, Information and Communication Technologies, Health, Food and Bioeconomy, Energy, Transport, and Climate Change and the Environment.
Details of the funding opportunities, in addition to information on effectively tendering for and implementing PPI and PCP projects, will be presented at the upcoming conference "Modernising the public sector and boosting economic growth through Innovation Procurement", set to take place in Milan (Italy) from 26 – 27 November.
For more information on funding opportunities, visit the Horizon 2020 website.
The importance and potential of procurement of innovation is outlined in the latest edition of Cities Today magazine, in an article written by Mark Hidson, Deputy Regional Director and Global Director of the Sustainable Procurement Capacity Centre at ICLEI. The article emphasises the need to move away from the mindset that lowest-price represents the lowest cost in the long run, and introduces the key factors of procuring innovation.
“The total value of public procurement in the EU is estimated at €2 trillion per year - or about 19 percent of European GDP,” writes Mr. Hidson. “Directed in the right way this figure represents tremendous fiscal power to shape societies for the better. Channelling this sum towards exclusively sustainable, ethical and innovative products and services will have a hugely significant impact on job creation and environmental and social welfare.”
The role of the revised Public Procurement Directives in fostering procurement of innovation is touched on, while the PPI Platform and the Procurement Forum are introduced as key tools for those looking to undertake procurement of innovation or pre-commercial procurement activities. Mr. Hidson also writes that the PPI Platform can play a significant role in creating a culture of innovation among governmental bodies.
To read the article, visit the Cities Today web-edition.
A survey has been released by the PPI Platform to gather feedback on the website www.innovation-procurement.org, with the aim of developing an even better resource for visitors. The survey allows the PPI Platform team to gain an insight into the strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement of the website.
The short questionnaire touches on ease of use, helpfulness of the current content, quality of information, and other topics of relevance. While all answers are anonymous, respondents are encouraged to provide details regarding their profession to give a better idea of the website's audience.
Once the information is gathered, updates to the website will be made, enhancing the overall user experience. The survey takes no longer than 5 - 10 minutes to fill out. All website visitors are encouraged to take part in the survey, as their feedback will lead to a better functioning, smoother and more useful online experience in the coming months.
To take part in the survey, click here.