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Digibyte | Publication

Helping the public sector get innovative while saving money

Public organisations in Europe (ministries, local authorities, universities, hospitals, public utility companies etc.) could be buying more and better innovative products and services that are based on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), thanks to a new three-year EU-funded initiative.

Innovation procurement is a public procurement practice according to which public authorities request businesses to develop or buy innovative products or services that fit these organisations' specific needs. For example, it could help hospitals use e-health tools allowing doctors to monitor their patients' condition from a distance; it could allow local authorities to improve traffic management in their region, hence reducing congestion and pollution, improving road safety and using the road network effectively; it could also help cities better manage street lighting to make roads safer and more attractive, while increasing energy efficiency; it could help public administration improve efficiency through the use of cloud solutions. Public Procurement in Europe represents a 19% of GDP in Europe -or around € 2,400 billion a year. Innovation procurement also helps boost smaller, more innovative companies, as it means using public procurement funds to buy products or services also from smaller suppliers who are trying to find new ways of dealing with specific needs.

The European Assistance for Innovation Procurement (EAFIP) initiative will help those in charge of public procurement design and implement processes to access such services.

More specifically:

  • it will provide them with a toolkit to help in the procedure;
  • It will offer training: 9 workshops, each dedicated to a different subject area such as health or transport will be organised across Europe, providing participants with good practice approaches and hands-on support. Events will be announced on this page;
  • It will raise awareness around public procurement of ICT solutions through 3 EU-wide events, where new ideas and initiatives for EU-wide cooperation on public procurement will be discussed.

Interested procurers can already find selection criteria and express their interest to receive assistance here.

EU-funded innovation procurement projects are already helping public organisations solve problems with the help of ICTs. According to the first results, these public organisations are already buying  R&D solutions 50% cheaper than they would have to pay otherwise; they are already creating jobs at home by encouraging 100% of the solution to be developed in Europe; and they are already opening up opportunities for innovative companies to sell across borders (3 times more contracts than normal are awarded to companies from another EU country).


The key components of the initiative are:

  1. Identification and establishment of contacts with key public procurers for ICT-based solutions across Europe, gathering information about their needs for innovative solutions and awakening their interest in undertaking innovation procurement;
  2. Preparation of a Toolkit to assist policy makers, public procurers and legal services in how to support, design and implement PCP and PPI procurement procedures;
  3. Provision of local assistance to selected procurers in the design and implementation of a PCP or PPI procurement;
  4. Organisation of 3 major EU-wide events to raise awareness about PCP and PPI initiatives across Europe and to discuss new ideas and initiatives for EU-wide cooperation on PCP and PPI; and
  5. Organisation of 9 workshops across Europe specifically targeted at providing procurers with access to good practice approaches and hands-on support.

The European public sector is facing significant challenges, including the need to modernise internal operations while delivering high quality public services. Innovation procurement can deliver solutions to these challenges and Information and ICTs play a major role in this.

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