PRONTO – a 40-month EU-funded project under the Competitiveness of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (COSME) programme – officially kicked off in January 2020 with the aim to inspire, inform and support public buyers in designing, implementing and monitoring PPI procedures, namely purchase innovative products, services or works that better address their needs, are new on the market and contain substantially novel characteristics.
Public procurement and more specifically PPI, may have the potential to drive innovation in the public sector and boost economic growth by, among others, providing innovative companies with the opportunity for first user references. However, despite its potential, PPI widespread adoption is only slowly taking up as there are several challenges, identified by the PRONTO project, that need to be addressed (e.g. lack of awareness, experience, capabilities related to new technologies and market developments, etc.) and barriers to overcome, such as the motivation to buy innovative solutions from a new company rather than buying established products from long-standing suppliers (risk-aversion). The coordinator of the PRONTO project and CEO at PEDAL Consulting, Robert Miskuf, explains: “the main barriers reported by suppliers refer to the lack of interaction with procuring organisations, the use of over-specified tenders as opposed to outcome-based specifications, low competences and motivation of procurers and a poor management of risk during the procurement process”.
The PRONTO project is tackling these challenges along 3 interrelated modules:
Module 1 (currently ongoing) – Assessment of public buyers’ needs and identification of the key challenges for the adoption of PPI processes: The PPI barriers and inhibitors at procurement process level will be individuated and assessed.
Module 2 – Engagement and capacity building: based on the knowledge derived from Module 1, PRONTO will organise at European and national levels (Estonia, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia):
- 10 training sessions for public procurers at both European and national levels, focused on how to treat PPI processes as a specific project, how to involve potential suppliers, how to engage with the market to identify what and who can offer the innovation needed, what elements should be considered in setting-up a successful PPI, and much more.
- 18 international staff exchanges (of 1-2 working days) for public procurers, with the aim of exchanging empirical knowledge and tips regarding PPI practices.
- 10 brokerage events for public procurers and SMEs/ large companies at both European and national levels, with the aim of facilitating market consultation and match demand-supply sides.
Module 3 – Pilot PPIs: PRONTO will assist two public buyers (the Slovak Environment Agency and the North-East Romanian Development Agency, members of the project Consortium) to design, launch, implement and monitor PPI calls for tenders in the fields of clean energy, healthcare and regional development. Before preparing the specifications for the PPIs, PRONTO will invite potential solution providers to suggest specific arguments and constrains to be taken into consideration. Moreover, PRONTO will further monitor how users adopt the innovation procured and performance of the solution both in economic terms and resource consumption, to identify deviations to adopt.
The project offers clear added value for public buyers as the analyses of Module 1 will tailor the trainings, staff exchanges and brokerage events of Module 2 according to their needs and constrains; while all the insights, lessons learnt, contacts and knowledge collected in the two previous Modules will offer business opportunities for SMES and large enterprises by paving the way for PRONTO public buyers to issue two PPI calls for tenders.