Innovation and procurement boosting growth also at regional level

Experts meeting in this Open Days workshop "Building synergies from research and development to deployment" on 5 October examined how different EU policy and funding instruments such as the 7th Research Framework Programme, the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) and European cohesion policy can be used for deployment. Finding the missing link between ideas and market is a process which has to be boosted and managed in order to create benefits for all stakeholders at all levels.

Panellists and participants looked at ways in which pre-commercial public procurement at the local and regional level can contribute innovative solutions to public-sector challenges, and examines the synergies between the different funding instruments. Trying to find ways to identify needs and find solutions, that is what Commission will try to find first needs, then find ideas which then might provide solutions brought by the market. These are the elements which have to be clearly stated and described in the tender documents, technical performance and type of solution are key to provide the right solution.

Organised by the European Commission, DG Information Society and Media and following the workshop organised back in March also focusing on public procurement, this Open Days workshop also got together a series of experts from the public sector as well as the industry with the aims, as the Chairman Mr. Eric Badiqué from the European Commission pointed out to find the missing link between ideas and the market.

As pointed out by Lieve Bos from DG Information Society and Media, public sector is faced with important societal challenges which often require transformations so technologically demanding, that no commercially stable solutions exists on the market yet. This is the reason why looking for public procurement strategies, including procurement of R&D, are required. There are many examples during history showing how procurement can boost technology and innovation, and therefore this is the challenge.

Currently there funding schemes under Seventh Framework Programme, Competitive and Innovation Programme (CIP) and INTERREG IV RFEC, which support the establishment of networks of public authorities on pre-commercial procurement. Call for Proposals FP7-ICT-2011-7 currently open will give opportunities to get funding for this type of PCPprojects. New support from the Commission under Work Programme 2011-2012 which will fund public authorities planning joint implementation of pre-commercial procurements on topics of common European interest.

Brian Winn, form NHS National Innovation Centre, United Kingdom, pointed out the importance of making correct management of the process and keep it transparent. As procurers, Winn, highlighted the need for them to keep some control over the intellectual property in order to decide when to release these developments, improvements which can be made, etc. Where is the future? Concepts such as "frugal innovation", "guerrilla innovation", etc will probably shape the future landscape in innovation.

Henning Seiding, from Welfare Tech Region South Denmark, Denmark, highlighted that in the current economic situation, regions and local authorities also have to get involved in pre-commercial procurement and support innovation, so they get the most from public money.

Health is a sector where procurement of innovation is more important, but it is not the only one: energy also needs to develop the appropriate devices. That was highlighted by Merce Griera I Fisa, who underline that public sector has a lot to do pushing ICT technologies by developing these technologies, locally, therefore creating jobs at local level. Local authorities have to be aware of that and be supportive in order to created technologies ICT efficient, for what the Green Digital Charter was created.

The gap between research and markets was the key issue which led to this kind of debates. Market fragmentation on procurement of innovation is still one of the main challenges, together with conservative approach from public authorities not willing to take risks.