Innovation procurement in the National Public Procurement Strategy

The government launched the National Public Procurement Strategy in 2016. The government has formulated seven policy objectives for the procurement strategy. Objective No. 5 aims at innovation procurement, public procurement that drives innovation and promotes alternative solutions. In this objective, the government states that there is great potential in using public procurement as a tool for promoting development and innovation.

Moreover, the government emphasizes that, through public procurement and close cooperation between contracting authorities and the business sector, the public sector can stimulate technological development. In turn, this can result in world-leading innovations. When businesses are given the opportunity to develop innovative solutions and new products for public sector activities, this may also create sustainable growth, enhanced competitiveness, new jobs and export opportunities.

Sweden’s capacity for innovation is crucial in order to develop the public sector as well as meeting the challenges and opportunities offered by the global economy. It is, therefore, important for innovation procurement to become part of the public authorities’ organisational development. New technological solutions and innovation are necessary in order to achieve societal goals.

Innovation procurement is often more resource-intensive than traditional public procurement. By organising pre-procurement purchasing networks or buyers’ groups, contracting authorities can reduce their risk by cooperating. This is particularly important regarding smaller municipalities and county councils, who can gain from collaborating on public procurement.

By employing techniques for innovation procurement, such as pre-commercial procurement and innovation partnership, the public sector can stimulate the development of completely new innovative solutions that do not exist on the market today.

A key to ensuring good results from public procurements is involving potential suppliers before the specification is drafted. Through an early dialogue, the procurers obtain a greater knowledge and understanding of the solutions the market can offer or develop.

Finally, the government points out that the public sector can promote innovation at supplier level by requesting functions rather than ready-made solutions. Setting criteria by function stimulates the suppliers’ creativity and innovativeness.

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