Good Practice
European Procurement of Innovation Award – The Winner Is Announced!

Last week, we featured an interview with Wouter Stolwijk, one of the judges for the European Procurement of Innovation Award. Stolwijk is Director of PIANOo, the tendering expertise centre in the Netherlands. The finalists for the award were the Federal Procurement Agency, Austria; Stockholm County Council (Karolinska University Hospital), Sweden; Galician Public Health Service, Spain; Consip – Central Purchasing Body, Italy and Rijkswaterstaat, The Netherlands.

We’re delighted to say that yesterday evening, at the glittering European Assistance for Innovation Procurement event in Paris, attended by Hollywood film stars, Presidents, top sportsmen and women, the winner was announced.  OK, we may be exaggerating slightly there – but we’re genuinely very sorry we could not attend, it sounds like a very interesting two-day conference on the whole topic of innovation procurement.

So not to keep you in suspense any longer . The winner was the Federal Procurement Agency of Austria. Many congratulations to them – the organisation procured a machine that “vaporises waste-water to remove traces of dirt”. The Agency received a trophy for innovation procurement excellence, together with the title “European innovation procurement of the year”. They will also have a case study published on the Procurement of Innovation Platform in the coming weeks.

“The quality of each of the finalists meant that choosing the overall winner was very difficult. It was an exceptionally close competition,” said Mark Hidson, Deputy Regional Director at ICLEI Europe and jury member. “We felt that the procurement of the vaporising system best showcased the impressive work being carried out, as well as the type of solution that public procurement of innovation can achieve. The procurement brought together the institutional knowledge of public procurers with the ingenuity of the private sector.”

The innovative solution is used by the Austrian mint to clean water contaminated during the production of coins and notes. Vaporisation of the waste-water takes place in a vacuum, allowing for fresh water and waste particles to be separated. As there is no pressure in the vacuum the water vaporises at a temperature of 40°C, reducing energy usage. Once the filtering process is complete, 97 percent of the water can be reused. The physical waste can also be more easily recycled.

So this sounds like an innovative solution that has real “sustainability” benefits too. To procure the equipment, the Agency applied a negotiated procedure split into three phases. In the first phase suppliers were invited to provide information on their qualifications as a company. In the second phase the supplier submitted their first offer, which included detailed information on waste-water consumption and the environmental savings of the proposed system. Based on the results of the study suppliers were then invited to submit their final offer.

You can read the full press release here; well done to all the finalists, and we may well have more to come on the competition and the winning entry. We would encourage all contracting authorities both to think about how they might make use of the concepts around “innovation procurement”, to learn from the winning entries this year, and to think about whether they might themselves want to enter in the 2016 competition.