Italy’s Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) has agreed to fund an innovative pre-commercial procurement programme which aims to boost research and development. The programme will be carried out by the Agency for Digital Italy (AGiD), and focus on the development of ‘innovative services’ in public bodies based in Italy’s ‘Convergence Regions’ such as Calabria, Campania, Puglia and Sicily. These innovative services will include high-tech research and development methods not yet on the market, which are aimed to meet the specific needs of public bodies and communities.
A total of 42 expressions of interest are eligible for resource allocation, with MIUR taking responsibility for 30 of these, and the Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) taking responsibility for the other 12. Health and care services, environment, cloud services, civil protection and tourism are just a few of the fields in which new innovative solutions will be developed and tested. MIUR will fund the initiative through calls worth €100 million, allocated under the 2007 to 2013 Cohesion Action Plan.
At a workshop held at AGiD headquarters in Rome, and titled “Pre-commercial procurement programme for innovative solutions in the public administration,”
Mauro Draoli from AGiD’s Citizens, Enterprises and Technological Transfer Unit, explained the initiative. He said that the pre-commercial procurement procedure involved acquiring research and development services that were not yet on the market, of which the provider would hold a considerable part of the industrial rights, including the rights to marketing the service.
In the first of three stages, the public authority makes a call for tender and several suppliers are chosen based on the quality of the solution they propose. The second stage involves reducing the number of suppliers progressively, and developing a prototype where the solution proposed can be experimentally tested. At least two suppliers will reach the final stage of the tender selection process, to keep in line with the criterion of the most cost-effective proposal.
Contrary to how funds are usually allocated in tenders the €100 million budget for the initiative will be divided among several suppliers over the different stages of the process. Of the total budget, €80 million will be allocated to the research and development stage, while the further €20 million will be used to carry out small-scale business testing.
Draoli said that suppliers would be able to benefit from the pre-commercial procurement process after it is completed. He said that suppliers would be able to use the solutions developed as part of the process in markets other than public procurement, and offer the service to international markets. Draoli explained that the public authority and the winning supplier would co-own intellectual property rights, but that marketing rights would be owned solely by the supplier.
Both the supplier and the contracting authority have plenty to benefit from the new programme.
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