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30 April 2015

San Francisco invites tech companies to review public services

To make government more innovative, the City of San Francisco (USA) has started a programme that uses private sector ingenuity to improve public services. Started by the Office of the Mayor, the "Entrepreneurship in Residence" programme provides technology entrepreneurs with the chance to work closely with government officials, allowing them to identify inefficiencies and needs within government services and, crucially, envisage solutions.

With the public sector market worth around $142 billion, the entrepreneurship position is highly sought after by those in the tech industry. The programme is separated by field, including healthcare, education, transportation, public utilities, infrastructure and so on, with six entrepreneurial teams chosen. Last year teams from 200 start-up companies based in 25 cities from around the world applied.

So far the programme has led to some remarkable innovations, such as the mobile app “MobilePD FI”, which helps police officers to conduct more efficient field interviews. In the past, all information collected had to be entered into the police database by hand. Using the new app, interviews, photos and other notes recorded via a mobile device are automatically synced with the police database, saving a significant amount of time and effort. The company that has developed the innovation hopes to sell it to police stations across the United States.

For more information, visit SpendMatters.


28 April 2015

European Commission launches intellectual property rights consultation

In an effort to gather evidence, opinions and feedback regarding the use of intellectual property rights and trade secrets in public procurement procedures, the European Commission has launched a public consultation. Opened on 20 April, the consultation will run until 7 July 2015. Stakeholders are invited to fill out the questionnaire on intellectual property rights, and are encouraged to pass on the consultation to other interested parties.

The questionnaire is primarily aimed at public authorities carrying out public procurement, suppliers of goods and services to public authorities, small and medium-sized enterprises, trade associations, providers of professional services, medical sector professionals, employees and trade unions, and civil society organisations. It is available in English, French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish, and takes around 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

Confusion over intellectual property rights may arise in relation to ownership of innovative products and services, and the methodology created in their development. To address this, the PPI Platform has developed a document providing specific guidance on intellectual property rights within the procurement process. Based on the outcome of the questionnaire, an official EU guide may also be developed.

To view the questionnaire, visit


23 April 2015

UK government makes £60 million in grant funding available to improve built environment

To ensure that buildings can meet the demands of increased urbanisation, climate change, and the need for greater energy efficiency, the public body Innovate UK is providing £60 million in grant funding over the next five years to encourage businesses to find innovative solutions. The money is provided through the Low Impact Building Innovation Platform, and will bring public and private partners together.

Innovate UK’s mandate is to fund, support and connect innovative businesses to accelerate sustainable economic growth. Businesses will be required to use the grant money to pursue opportunities in the areas of manufacturing high performance materials and building technologies; digital design and engineering; energy eco-systems; and energy management and diagnostics tools.

“We need to find resilient, sustainable and adaptable solutions that can be delivered with precision and at high quality on an industrial scale... Our funding will help transform the [building] sector, integrate supply chains, capitalise on the UK’s current leadership position, develop growth sub-sectors and exploit export opportunities,” said Simon Hart, Low Impact Building Innovation Platform Leader at Innovate UK.

For more information, visit


21 April 2015

Public procurement to speed up the evolution to smart cities in Europe

Smart technology will shape the future of our cities, tapping into available knowledge to make our urban spaces more navigable, efficient and responsive - and public procurement has a large role to play in heralding this shift towards innovation, said Peter Fatelnig, Deputy Head of Unit for ‘Net Innovation’ and DG for Communications Networks, Content and Technology at the European Commission.

Speaking to Spend Matters' Nancy Clinton, Mr. Fatelnig spoke of how technology can be used to transfer the tremendous amount of information available at present to people's fingertips, creating more innovative spaces. Europe must invest more in R&D said Mr. Fatelnig, encouraging public procurers to see every purchase as an opportunity to "buy innovation".

When pressed on Europe's ability to meet demand for smart technology, Mr. Fatelnig argues that the technology, suppliers and know-how are already available, but it must be developed further. SMEs will be particularly important in the development of sector-specific technology, with the emphasis on sourcing locally becoming more pronounced, he predicts.

For more information, visit Spend Matters.


16 April 2015

Solar bins see waste costs fall in Dublin

Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown (DLR) County Council has rolled out hundreds of solar powered, compacting litter bins in the south-east region of County Dublin (Ireland), leading to reduced waste service costs. Between 2009 and 2014, as a result of the economic downturn, the budget of DLR County Council was cut by 25 percent and staffing levels by 17 percent.

The County Council, which caters to around 206,000 people, had to identify how to provide services with a diminished workforce. Following the consideration of various options, it was decided that the use of the solar powered bins could allow for a similar level of service to be provided despite the reduction in the fleet budget and staff numbers.

An open tender was published, as a result of which 401 bins were purchased. Using a web-based application to monitor real-time levels of waste in the new units, the number of trips to empty the litter bins has been reduced by over 85 percent, which has resulted in 8,125 fewer litres of diesel being used, contributing to 75 percent lower fleet costs.

For more information, read the GPP News Alert case study.


13 April 2015

Global Lead Cities Network on sustainable public procurement launched

Seoul Metropolitan Government and ICLEI have joined forces to establish a Global Lead Cities Network on Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP). The aim is to create a worldwide network of leading cities that share and develop their capabilities to implement sustainable and innovation procurement, driving a transition to sustainable production and consumption. The network was launched at the ICLEI World Congress in Seoul (Republic of Korea) on 11 April 2015.

The network marks a recent growth in international interest and understanding of the importance of procurement in the fight against climate change. It has been set up to raise awareness of the benefits of sustainable and innovation procurement, and to help develop a supportive political framework. According to the United Nations Office for Project Services, an average of 15 percent of global gross domestic product is spent through public procurement systems each year, amounting to over $10 trillion. Public authority spending has real potential to change the future, achieve significant value for organisations and provide tangible benefits to the environment and the well-being of our society.

Cities including Seoul (Republic of Korea), Cape Town (South Africa), Helsinki (Finland), Ghent (Belgium) and Rotterdam (The Netherlands) are amongst the founding participants. They commit to take an exemplary role globally by putting SPP into action through setting ambitious, quantified targets for its implementation, developing a clear implementation strategy and undertaking an evaluation of performance. The cities will act as global and regional champions of SPP, committing to promote and accelerate its wide-scale adoption by other cities.

For more information, view the press release.


10 April 2015

New book provides comprehensive information on PPI

A new publication released by Edward Elgar Publishing provides a wide-ranging analysis of public procurement as an innovation policy tool. Titled Public Procurement for Innovation, the book considers PPI from a theoretical perspective and a more practical standpoint. Innovation policy has traditionally been aimed at supply side issues, however a growth in demand-side interventions in the last decade has led to a greater understanding of how public authorities can use their purchasing power to push the market to help overcome challenges such as transport planning, energy efficiency and urban growth.

As well as considering the development of research and policy in the field of innovation, the book also looks at the challenges involved in innovation procurement. These include the translation of need into functional requirements, using innovation to promote sustainability, PPI in developing countries and more practical challenges such as assessing risk and capacity building.

Gaynor Whyles, who sits on the PPI Platform Advisory Board, is one of the contributors to the book. Her expertise is in using forward commitment procurement as a practical tool to engage with suppliers and develop innovative solutions to identified needs. Drawing on experiences in the health sector, Ms Whyles shows how effective market engagement can help suppliers overcome perceived risks by working together to refine outcomes and identify wider demand for innovative products.

For more information, visit Elgar online.


7 April 2015

Dutch government body uses PPI to lower emissions

The Dutch body in charge of infrastructure is using public procurement of innovation (PPI) to reduce emissions and improve products and services. Rijkswaterstaat, an organisation within the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, released a policy framework in November 2014 to encourage the use of PPI. The organisation’s current ambition is to achieve a 2.5 percent share of public procurement of innovation in terms of overall procurement procedures, with all barriers towards innovation removed.

Rijkswaterstaat has already released three innovative tenders as part of the GPP2020 project, including a tender for the construction of a low-carbon motorway exit, which encouraged suppliers to use fewer materials through greater innovation. The second involved the reconstruction of a guard lock in the river Meuse, and placed an emphasis on the uptake of innovative materials and working methods. Through the tender 4580 tonnes of CO2 eq savings were achieved, with 1305 tonnes of energy savings.

The third tender, which was for the design and construction of a non-movable bridge, the renovation of the complete pavement of the adjacent road, and the construction of a viaduct, similarly encouraged innovation. It saw 1096 tonnes of CO2 eq savings and 312 tonnes of energy savings. The EU-funded GPP 2020 project aims to increase the inclusion of environmental criteria in public tenders.

For more information, read the Rijkswaterstaat Policy Framework [PDF].


2 April 2015

Final conference for GreenXpo set to take place in Jyväskylä

The GreenXpo project, which aimed to enhance uptake of eco-innovations in Europe, is nearing its end. A final conference is set to take place from 22-24 April in the City of Jyväskylä (Finland). Jyväskylä, which is located in central Finland and is a well-known university city, strives to be a forerunner in the development of sustainable resources in the country.

The first day of the conference, titled “Efficient Interfaces in Eco-Innovation”, will include presentations on Finland’s Bioeconomy strategy from Jussi Manninen of the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy, as well as on the Circular Economy from Mari Pantsar Kallio of Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund. Additionally, GreenXpo partners will present the findings of the project, many of which are documented in the form of case studies on the projects’ InnovationSeeds website.

The second day will include presentations from Giulio Pattanaro of DG Research & Innovation on eco-innovation in Europe, and Pirkko Korhonen of the City of Jyväskylä will present the history and future of resource wisdom in the city. On the final day of the conference, participants are invited to take part in field visits to local eco-innovative companies. Registration is now open.

For more information, view the draft agenda.