Expert group calls for public procurement to boost innovation

A recent expert report argues that public sector demand for new products and services can boost innovation and increase investment in and take-up of related R&D.

The use of public procurement to encourage innovation by providing a ‘lead market’ for new technologies is one of the measures proposed by an expert group on 24 March to improve the commercialisation and exploitation of research results. 

The report of the expert group for ‘pre-commercial procurement of innovation’ suggests that national administrations should come together to share the risks and the benefits of pursuing novel services and products with the providers themselves. 

The group then explains how this can be done in line with the WTO rules by European-wide publication of tenders and acceptance of European-wide offers. Pre-commercial procurement of innovation demands an incentive for the procurers, therefor the experts suggests that the Commission considers using, for example, the future CIP to create such an incentive.

A European dimension on pre-commercial procurement would build critical mass on the demand side, stimulate competition and exploit economies of scale and scope. According to the report, “it would contribute to solving pressing European issues such as interoperability and coherence of solutions across borders and stimulate the uptake of European research. Finally, co-operation on European level would reduce the risks for the individual procurers of purchasing yet-to-be proven technologies.”

Along the same lines the Aho-report 
Creating an innovative Europe
(January 2006) highlighted the need to develop a European level strategy on the matter. The Aho-report considers e-health, pharmaceuticals, energy, environment, transport and logistics, security and digital content as the top large-scale sectors in which market creation is urgently needed.

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