Call for public procurement to promote innovation

26 March 2006
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27 March 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor

Public procurement professionals may soon be required to invest in products and services not yet on the market.

Public procurement professionals may soon be required to invest in products and services not yet on the market.

The European Commission is reviewing a proposal from a group of technology experts to explore the issue. Reporting this month, the group concluded that investment into the research of products under development will drive innovation.

The group said buyers should come together to share the risks and the benefits of pursuing innovative services and products with the providers themselves.

The commission said this approach would stimulate innovation and increase investment levels while reducing risk through a pooling of resources.

The technology group's report,<%$Linker: External 0 0 0 <em>Pre-commercial procurement of innovation: A missing link in the European innovative cycle</em> http://europa.eu.int/information_society/research/key_docs/documents/procurement.pdf true false%>, points out that "pre-commercial procurement" already takes place in some Asian countries and in the US in line with World Trade Organization rules.

Responding to the proposal, Viviane Reding, the commissioner for information society and media, said last week: "Europe must create a commercial environment that encourages more rapid innovation and take up of research results. The public sector has massive buying power, but it needs the right incentives to share the risks as well as the benefits of investing in new technologies and services."

The commission said the next move is to work with those responsible for public procurement to look at opportunities for joint work in the areas of health, transport, security and government. It will also explore whether legal guidelines are needed to help this new approach.

SMmar2006

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