13 April 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor
Public procurement professionals may soon be required to invest in products and services undergoing pre-market testing.
The European Commission is reviewing a proposal from a group of technology experts to explore greater use of products under development in order to stimulate innovation.
Pre-commercial procurement of innovation: A missing link in the European innovative cycle, said buyers should come together to share risks and benefits of pursuing innovative services and products with the providers. This approach would stimulate innovation and increase investment levels while reducing risk through a pooling of resources.
The commission said the next move is to work with those responsible for public procurement to look at opportunities for joint work in health, transport, security and government. It will also explore whether legal guidelines are needed to help this new approach.
But Tim Bradshaw, senior policy adviser for technology and innovation at the CBI, which last year produced a survey that found public-sector procurement hinders innovation, questioned whether a new law was needed.
He said instead, public procurers should think about specifying the outcomes they want and engage with business early so that it might find the solutions.
He added: "It's not easy making public investment decisions, but the risk of doing what you've always done is that you miss out on the potential for cheaper, better services."