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26 June 2014

Dutch authorities take first steps towards circular procurement

Municipalities in the Netherlands were invited to learn more about engaging in circular procurement, a process in which buyers only purchase recycled products to prevent further exploitation of raw materials, at the first working group meeting of Circular Procurement in Utrecht earlier this month.

Procurement officers from the municipalities of Amersfoort and Woerden, as well as the province of Utrecht, attended the orientation, which offered a concrete framework for implementation of the concept. Earlier this year the province of Utrecht committed to applying circular procurement to at least 10 percent of the total procurement budget of one billion Euros by 2020. Currently, pilot projects are being implemented, providing valuable experience and enabling the process to be refined.

A framework for measuring the impact of circular procurement is currently under development by the Utrecht Sustainability Institute (USI). The next step for the Dutch authorities is an alignment with national initiatives, using circular procurement as part of a country-wide transformation to a circular economy.

For more information, click here.


23 June 2014

New procurement guide helps public authorities unlock the benefits of innovation

To reduce the existing knowledge gap on public procurement of innovation (PPI), the EU-funded Public Procurement of Innovation Platform project has launched a comprehensive guide. The guide, which is available online and in print, offers explanations of procedures, definitions and answers to common questions, a selection of case studies, and useful resources for further reading. Particular emphasis is placed on the latest EU procurement directives, as well as ways in which procurement procedures can facilitate greater innovation.

“In a time of decreasing public budgets, innovation can facilitate the delivery of vital infrastructure and services. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that public procurers can effectively engage in PPI. This guide will empower procurers to create a more efficient, sustainable and modern Europe.” said Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission. The total value of public procurement in the EU is estimated at €2 trillion per year – or about 19 percent of European GDP.

The document will be of interest to procurers, policy makers, consultants, private companies and others who have a stake in successful PPI. "Europe has an enormous and overlooked opportunity to spur innovation using procurement. Moreover, public procurement of innovative products and services are vital for improving the quality and efficiency of public services at a time of budget constraints. Through this guide, public procurers will be equipped with the necessary knowledge to effectively engage in PPI.” said Mark Hidson, Deputy Regional Director of ICLEI Europe, and coordinator of the PPI Platform project.

To view the guide, click here.


20 June 2014

Sanitary, green construction materials see Swedish hospital triumph at innovation awards

A hospital project in Värmland (Sweden) that saw environmentally friendly and sterile materials used in the construction of a new department for premature babies has won the 2014 Regional Innovation Award. The materials employed eliminate the need to sanitise, potentially reducing the spread of infection and making the hospital a healthier environment. The innovative choice in construction materials has resulted in the Karlstad-based hospital reaching the highest level in the "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" (LEED) rating system.

The award was presented to Värmland at a ceremony attended by regional presidents, industry experts and other stakeholders from around Europe in Brussels (Belgium). “Regions need to have a holistic view of innovation and see it as a system... [they must] create a healthy innovation ecosystem and bring all actors around the table: industry, research, innovation agencies and governments.” said Richard Tuffs, Director of the European Regions Research and Innovation Network, speaking at the ceremony.

The Regional Innovation Awards recognise European regional authorities who stimulate, foster and implement innovation. The awards are organised by the Assembly of European Regions (AER), an organisation that works to bolster the position of regions in Europe's innovation and industrial policy.

For more information, click here.


17 June 2014

European Directive introduces uniform electronic invoicing in public procurement

Electronic invoicing provides clear benefits in the speed and efficiency of transactions. It is increasingly popular and has become the de facto method of organising payments for many companies and government bodies across Europe. It suffers, however, from a lack of standardisation.

In April, the European Commission published Directive 2014/55/EU to introduce more consistent e-invoicing practices. The Directive aims to overcome the disparity of e-invoicing practices in different EU member states which makes it difficult for businesses to operate across borders, effectively acting as a barrier to trade within the economic area. It also obliges public authorities within the EU to accept e-invoices which comply with a standard form.

Compatible invoicing systems will allow companies to participate more easily in tenders, as they will no longer have to adapt their systems for different organisations. Contracting authorities will benefit as well, with savings of up to €2.3 billion predicted by the Commission. The Directive forms part of a wider trend towards end-to-end e-procurement across the EU. This is part of the continuing effort to make public procurement across the EU more efficient.

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12 June 2014

11 nominees chosen for Procurement of Innovation Award

The Public Procurement of Innovation Platform consortium has today announced the nominations for the Public Procurement of Innovation Award , which rewards the very best innovation procurement in Europe. The Award recognises successful public procurement practices that have been used to purchase innovative, effective and efficient products or services. The nominees reflect the geographic diversity of entrants, with Spanish, Dutch, French, Norwegian and Austrian contracting authorities represented.

"The quality of all applications was extremely high, making the jury’s evaluation a difficult task. We congratulate all those selected, and look forward to announcing a final winner. All candidates will benefit from the recognition offered by the Award." said Mark Hidson, Deputy Regional Director of ICLEI Europe and Global Director of ICLEI’s Sustainable Procurement Centre. The winning entry will receive an award 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.

As well as Mr Hidson, the judging panel comprises Bonifacio Garcia Porras, Head of Unit: Innovation Policy for Growth, DG Enterprise and Industry, European Commission; Wouter Stolwijk, Director of PIANOo; and David Golding, Head of Strategy, Technology Strategy Board. At the end of June the jury will make a selection of six finalists. The winner will be revealed at the EcoProcura conference taking place in Ghent, Belgium on 24-26 September 2014.

To view the list of nominees, click here.


11 June 2014

Turin looks for innovative lighting solutions for schools

The City of Turin (Italy) is openly inviting the lighting market to suggest solutions that will meet the needs of three specific schools to be renovated as part of the PRO-LITE project. PRO-LITE aims to exemplify how public sector organisations can overcome organisational and procurement barriers to deliver innovative and cost-effective technologies for their organisations, and at the same time support economic growth.

Through the project, Turin aims to identify innovative lighting solutions that will facilitate better use of school buildings, such as classrooms, common areas, gyms, and so on. In February 2014, the city published a Prior Information Notice (PIN) in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) – outlining the key elements of its future tender.

Turin’s renovations of lighting for the three school buildings are estimated at €750,000. Interested parties are encouraged to submit an idea through PRO-LITE’s Online Submission Tool before 31st July 2014, and invited to consult the PRO-LITE Market Sounding Prospectus.

For more information, click here.


5 June 2014

Pre-commercial procurement project helps with digital archiving of historical materials

As digital storage becomes the norm, libraries, archives, museums and other organisations tasked with preserving materials for public record must learn to catalogue their files electronically. Media types such as documents, images, and audio-visual records are capable of being stored in a range of formats, many of which are not regulated and may quickly become obsolete, rendering them unsuitable for future preservation.

To address this challenge, the PREFORMA (PREservation FORMAts for culture information/e-archives) project has published a pre-commercial procurement (PCP) tender to help organisations implement standardised file formats for preserving data content in the long term. Through the PCP, open source software for file format standards will be developed. Memory institutions will have full control over necessary conformity tests before files are ingested into archives.

The implementation of the file format standards will consist of a set of modular tools, which will be developed in an iterative process with multiple releases and a number of experiments with ‘real’ data sets files. The process is designed to give institutions control at each step. The PCP will involve a range of stakeholders, including cultural heritage organisations, developers and coders, research organisations, standardisation bodies, and funding agencies. The PEFORMA project is co-funded by the European Commission under its FP7-ICT Programme.

For more information, click here.


3 June 2014

Scottish government invests in innovative low-carbon projects

The Scottish Funding Council has announced €24.5 million in funding for new projects to help Scotland meet its carbon emissions reduction targets. The money will be used to fund innovative heating projects at Strathclyde, Stirling and St Andrews universities. It is foreseen that the move will encourage others to develop and invest in low carbon technologies.

St Andrews University will receive £10 million for a wood-fuelled biomass project at Guardbridge in Fife. A further £8 million will be used to construct a combined heat, power and district energy network at Strathclyde University, linking the campus with major energy users in the area. Stirling University will also receive £2 million for the installation of a combined heat and power plant to serve its main campus.

Scottish Education Secretary Michael Russell said: "Today's announcement further underlines both the value of our universities in leading research and innovation, and Scotland's ambitions for low carbon energy…Investment for these three universities will not only contribute to reducing our carbon emissions, their work will offer other bodies the opportunity to learn from their work, develop their own projects and further enhance Scotland's global reputation in this area."

For more information, click here.