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28 August 2014

Contracts awarded to further develop robots designed to make life better for the elderly

Three proposals, including an intelligent robot arm that provides support to people about to fall, a robotics device that aids the elderly when carrying out physical activities and a robot designed to help with household tasks, have been awarded contracts as part of the SILVER (Supporting Independent LiVing for the Elderly through Robotics) project. They will advance to the second phase of the Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) process.

Titled the “Helping Hand”, the robot arm detailed in the first proposal passively follows a user’s movements, becoming stiff and acting as a crutch when unstable situations are detected. It is designed to take away the feeling of instability during complex tasks for elderly and handicapped people, wherein a person’s hands and full attention are needed. In addition to offering daily support, the second proposal, known as the "Iron Arm", will collect data on the physical activities of elderly people, helping them to maintain muscle strength and increase life expectancy. It will be particularly relevant for those with reduced hand and arm functions.

The third proposal, the Lecorob robot, will help the elderly to grasp objects at various heights and can be used as an autonomous mobility device. The device will be programmed with software to facilitate collision avoidance, object manipulation, speech recognition, face recognition, object recognition and person tracking. The SILVER project aims to find new technologies to assist elderly people in their everyday lives by using PCP. The project also aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach in addressing societal and governmental needs.

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27 August 2014

Water PiPP invites cities to join project working group

The Water PiPP project aims to stimulate demand for sustainable water solutions through innovative and pre-commercial procurement. Those with expertise in public procurement are warmly invited to join the project working group – the advice and guidance of public procurers will be instrumental in making the outcomes of Water PiPP relevant for local administrations.

Benefits of joining include the ability to test ideas on innovative procurement procedures with a group of public procurement specialists from across Europe; the chance to gain a better understanding of how to access solutions in water technologies and services for your own city; and the opportunity to contribute to shaping future European policies for procurement in the field of urban water management.

Those who join the project working group will be asked to contribute their expert opinion to the project's overall strategy; participate in the WIP Group, the project's discussion forum on innovative public procurement procedures; and spread the word on the project outcomes. The Cities Working Group will be composed of up to eight procurement specialists from local governments in Europe, and will be active until the end of 2016.

To register your interest, contact anna.backmann@iclei.org.

 

21 August 2014

Innovation vital to maintaining private sector competitiveness states report

Greater innovation is making private sector companies more competitive in the long term, a research paper released by the Hackett Group has revealed. For many companies, innovation based growth has become increasingly important since the financial crash of 2008, and is now seen as a prerequisite for maintaining growth rates.

"This revised perspective on the purpose of innovation represents a profound break with the past, one requiring pervasive changes in every business services organisation, including procurement.” states authors of the paper Patrick Connaughton and Christopher S. Sawchuk. Although focused on the private sector, the report is also of relevance to public buyers, whom have the power to steer and encourage supplier choices.

More companies are now focusing on depth of innovation rather than price, with a shift towards viewing contracts as a chance to mutually benefit parties subverting the more adversarial stance of the past. Focusing on innovation-based business strategies and strategic partnerships can help to bolster the position of procurement within organisations, while a more holistic view of the procurement process can lead to greater benefits for all parties involved, conclude the paper's authors.

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19 August 2014

EU Public Procurement Directive broadens grounds for exclusion of suppliers

Publication of the new EU Public Procurement Directives in February 2014 brought with them a number of changes and greater flexibility in how public procurements can be carried out. One of the main areas of change is that of exclusion criteria, which oblige or allow public authorities to prevent an operator from taking part in a public procurement process.

These criteria are dealt with in Article 57 of the Public Sector Directive (2014/24/EC) and see significant additions both to mandatory and discretionary grounds for exclusion of suppliers. New offences have been added to the existing mandatory grounds for exclusion, which include participation in a criminal organisation, corruption, fraud and money laundering. The expanded list now includes terrorist offences or offences linked to terrorist activities, terrorist financing and child labour or other forms of human trafficking offences.

Discretionary grounds for exclusion have been significantly broadened, giving public procurers greater freedom to exclude suppliers on the grounds of violation of environmental, social or labour law, grave professional misconduct, conflict of interest, collusion or poor prior performance of a public contract. Grounds for exclusion are, however, tempered by two key principles: proportionality, which requires that decisions be proportionate to the authority's aims; and ‘self-cleaning’, which means that an operator cannot be excluded if it can prove that it is working to remedy its previous wrong.

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14 August 2014

New approaches to public procurement can inspire private sector innovation

Barcelona (Spain) is one of a number of cities using solutions-focused procurement to promote entrepeneurship. Rather than taking the traditional approach of publishing tenders specifying the goods or services it would like to buy, Barcelona has published six problems it wishes to solve. Anyone around the world with a creative idea, including startup companies or even individuals, can send in their solutions to this Open Challenge.

Barcelona put a great deal of effort into publicising its new scheme, getting in touch with more than 1,000 organisations that it had identified as potentially being able to solve the problems as well as using social media and more traditional advertising to promote the campaign beyond its usual suppliers. The response was impressive, with more than 50,000 views of the online tender within three weeks of its publication. Winning bidders will be awarded free space to set up their business, a city contract and the market legitimacy it brings.

“City governments need to get out of procuring by specifying the solution they want,” said Sascha Haselmayer, co-founder of a consultancy called Citymart which has helped engineer this process. “They can’t possibly have enough knowledge to do that well. What they should do is specify the problem they want to solve and show metrics on what success looks like. And then allow the market to inspire them to find the best solutions.”

For more information, click here.

 

11 August 2014

Public Procurement of Innovation Award jury selects six finalists

The shortlist for the Public Procurement of Innovation Award has been narrowed to six finalists, representing the most innovative and impressive public procurement activities carried out in Europe. An in-depth profile of each finalist, detailing their organisation, procured innovation and supplier, is available online.

The finalists and their suppliers will be invited to an award ceremony at the EcoProcura conference, taking place in Ghent (Belgium) from 24 – 26 September 2014. “These finalists exemplify the best examples of procurement of innovation in Europe. Their dedication to finding new and creative solutions to everyday problems within the procurement process is highly impressive. Each of the six organisations are to be congratulated; selecting a final winner will not be an easy feat.” said jury member Wouter Stolwijk, Director of PIANOo.

The judging panel also comprises Bonifacio Garcia Porras of the European Commission’s DG Enterprise and Industry; David Golding, Head of Strategy with the Technology Strategy Board; and Mark Hidson, Deputy Regional Director of ICLEI Europe and Global Director of ICLEI’s Sustainable Procurement Centre. 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.

For more information, click here.

 

7 August 2014

Hungary PPI Training calls for applicants

To provide both a theoretical framework and more practical advice on implementing public procurement of innovation (PPI), the Procurement of Innovation Platform project is organising a series of training sessions. The second seminar will be held in Hungary on 14 October 2014 and is aimed at experts and procurers from the Central and Eastern European region.

Participation in the training is free of charge and travel and accommodation for participants may be covered on a case-by-case basis. The training package is tailored to meet different needs, and is suitable for both beginners and those with more experience. The latest PPI support tools will be introduced and discussed, and specific aspects of innovation and procurement, such as criteria setting or pre-procurement aspects, will be explored.

Specially developed materials will also be provided and experts will be on hand to give advice. The one day training will consist of around 15 participants. Applicants are selected on a first-come, first-served basis and a maximum of two applicants per organisation are accepted. Training is open for public servants working as policy makers, project managers and procurers. To apply for the training, contact pszuppinger@rec.org.

For more information, click here.

 

5 August 2014

Public Procurement of Innovation to be celebrated at EcoProcura 2014

The winner of the first Public Procurement of Innovation Award will be announced next month at the 2014 EcoProcura Conference in Ghent (Belgium). The Award recognises and publicises successful public procurement practices that have been used to purchase innovative, more effective and efficient products or services.

EcoProcura 2014 will also feature a unique ‘Meet Your Buyer’ event, giving public procurers the chance to exchange information on sustainable goods and services with a range of suppliers and procurement experts from across Europe. Meet Your Buyer aims to demonstrate the commercial possibilities presented by a sustainable and innovative economy, providing an opportunity to meet and discuss topics including market dialogue, engagement and business models in a neutral setting.

Online registration is still open for the Conference, which will take place from 24-26 September 2014. The deadline for official registration is 15 August 2014. After this date a late fee will come into effect. A full programme is available on the website, providing an overview of plenary speakers, sessions, presentations, and social events.

For more information, click here.