Public procurement and sustainable innovation

Many companies are reluctant to invest in the development of innovative technologies when there is uncertainty about the size of the market for these products.

Public authorities purchase large volumes of these products and they have a responsibility to their communities to reduce the carbon emissions of the products and services they buy. Demand from public authorities for innovative technologies can therefore play an important role in the development and mainstreaming of these technologies. 

The term pre-procurement refers to the timeframe before a tender for a particular product or service has been issued. Activities undertaken in the pre-procurement phase can include structured discussions between suppliers and procurers, a market survey on the availability of certain products and procuring research & development (R&D) services.

What is pre-procurement?

Public authorities can meet their procurement needs in innovative ways by taking a flexible outcome-based approach and accessing the innovating potential of the market. For example, a public authority may need to purchase a new lighting system for its office buildings with substantially reduced energy consumption, due to political targets on CO2 reduction. Pre-procurement dialogues with technology suppliers and developers will help determine if the market is able to offer more innovative solutions to achieve this outcome than those currently available.