Supply Side
The Procurement of Innovation Award 2014 – a synopsis of the 6 finalists (part 1)

Star award against gradient backgroundIt is widely understood that supporting innovation through public procurement can have significant positive impact on the European economy, competitive landscape, environment, jobs and general well-being. With the public sector accounting for almost 50 percent of Europe’s gross domestic product (GDP) and public procurement for nearly 20 percent, it is easy to see why innovation should play such a large part in stimulating growth.

The procurement of innovation in goods and services is not just about R&D, but innovation in design and delivery of public services, processes and models and the procurement of innovative solutions. This is exactly what the Procurement of Innovation Award sets out to challenge and reward – encouraging market players to adopt a more innovation-led approach to buying that will ultimately be for the good of the European community. The award is part of the Procurement of Innovation Platform project, which helps public authorities and other stakeholders to understand and exploit the influence that innovation procurement can exert. We think, therefore, that the selected six finalists are worth a special mention in Public Spend Matters Europe. These finalists have earned a place, along with their suppliers, at the award ceremony to take place at the EcoProcura conference in Ghent (Belgium) from 24 – 26 September.

Distance learning using robotics: Région Rhône Alpes, France

High School Robot’ was a procurement exercise conducted by Région Rhône Alpes, one of France’s 22 administrative regions, to design a ‘robotic remote presence solution’ that would enable high school students to attend class who would normally be prevented from doing so owing to disability or illness. The procurement was mindful of SME inclusion and was awarded to AWABOT, from Villeurbanne, Lyon metropolitan area, which, to a budget of € 490,000, designed a virtual solution that would allow students to follow lessons and communicate with friends and teachers through e-learning. 

The possibilities of what AWABOT designed go beyond this scope as the open source platform can be reused  in different applications in other market sectors. It also has positive repercussions for the corporate market, with the ability to allow CEOs, for example, to connect via robot to their organisations from anywhere in the world.

Data service for water barrier management: HetWaterschapshuis, Netherlands

Het Waterschapshuis (responsible for the exchange of digital information between the Dutch water boards) and Stichting IJKdijk (non-profit organisation for innovative dike monitoring, inspection and testing) initiated the procurement ‘Dike Data Service Center’. The task was to design an open source platform to combine different data sources and store and use information on water barriers. The platform aims to become the open source standard and a community for public authorities from the European Union and beyond. The award, selected on quality and budget, went to a joint venture of Nelen en Schuurmans (Utrecht, Netherlands) and Fugro (Leidschendam).
To a budget of € 1,000,000, the joint venture came up with a completely new, high-tech system that would allow the Dutch water boards more easily to prioritise works and enhance water safety levels. The monitoring system is seen to have further potential use internationally  for monitoring earthquakes.

Electronic delivery of official documents: Federal Procurement Agency, Austria

The Federal Procurement Agency Austria tasked the market with creating a significantly improved form of delivering official documents via safe electronic channels in a bid to save costs and energy, and speed up delivery time to benefit citizens and businesses. Three suppliers qualified for all criteria and were invited for negotiation rounds, where they had to present concepts for implementation of the tool.

The award, made on price, quality and technical expertise, was given to Postserver Online Zustelldienste which, to a budget of € 5,000,000, created a system of ‘Dual Delivery’ — allowing identification of the best and safest mode of delivery, either electronically or hard copy depending on the recipient’s availability. Although a small startup, the award has considerably strengthened the companies position in the financial services industry.

We will cover the three remaining contenders tomorrow, but in the meantime, we offer our congratulations to all finalists and will report – with great interest – on the wining team later in the month.

You can read in more detail about the award here.