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"It is time to harness the power of government procurement to promote innovation"

Josť Manuel Barroso

Keith Sequeira & Bertrand Wert
Policy Officers, European Commission
Directorate General Enterprise and Industry
Unit D1 Innovation Policy Development

As Commission President recently stated in a special prospective edition of Time Magazine for the year 2010, innovation policies in Europe are evolving towards demand-side actions. Technological push needs to be complemented with a better understanding of societal needs and challenges which in turn can create a demand for new solutions, new services and new products.
The European Lead Market Initiative1 started to implement this approach using standards, regulation and public procurements to stimulate market demand for innovation.
In particular, three networks of public procurers have been set-up to exchange best practice and developing targeted guidelines to innovative public procurers involved in the intelligent/protective textile and sustainable construction sectors2; PIANOo is involved in these networks as are other Dutch stakeholders. European events are regularly organised to raise visibility, in particular with public procurers and industry. The latest was dedicated to: "Promoting Innovation through Public Procurement: Best Practice & Networking" and took place in March 2010 with more than 200 stakeholders in Brussels.

Some Member States and regions have started to develop new schemes to encourage innovative procurement. Pioneers include the Dutch Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) pilot programme, and the UK Small Business Research Initiative programme.
At European level, it is important to organise exchanges and mutual learning between such approaches and indeed a peer review of SBIR schemes is being conducted by INNO-Partnering Forum4 supported by the European Commission.

Further actions at European level to foster innovative public procurement are under consideration for the new European research and innovation policy, which is being developed as the 'Innovation Union' flagship initiative as part of the Europe 2020 strategy. For example, actions could aim at linking up public procurers at national, regional and metropolitan level to pool the risks of procuring innovations and overcome fragmentation in public procurement markets across Europe. So we look forward learning more about the Dutch experiences and how its success could be elevated at European level.

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