Procurement of Innovation platform

Our Stories

10 October 2019

Interview with Sergio Capitán, head of CDTI's Innovation Procurement Office

Are procurers in Spain willing to use their power to boost innovation?
Spain has a decentralised public procurement scheme, based on more than 8,000 authorities at the national, regional and local level, which includes the central administration and its agencies, public-funded bodies, universities and health services. In recent years, interesting initiatives have emerged to promote Innovation Procurement (IP) by different public procurers. However, additional substantial changes, mainly to flexibilise and reduce times, in the regulatory and institutional framework are required to take advantage of the opportunities of this instrument, which has so far been underutilised.

What do you think are the main obstacles?
The main barriers at present are related to the need to advance in regulatory and institutional changes to meet the specific needs of the different contracting bodies at different institutional levels. It is also essential to develop new cooperation mechanisms between the public and private sectors. As we said before, it is also key to increase training for professionals in the public sector, as well as for personnel from private entities, given the limited experience in this type of initiatives.

How is CDTI, the Spanish competence centre, contributing to PCP and PPI?
The Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), the public innovationsupporting agency that belongs to the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (MSIU), has been working on Innovation Procurement for almost a decade, with its INNODEMANDA instrument as the main initiative, created in July 2011. Since November 2018, with the creation of the Office for Innovation Procurement, the strategic commitment to innovation procurement is key, with the development of new own instruments and additional services. CDTI’s Innovation Procurement Office is currently developing a new pre-commercial procurement instrument. After the screening and evaluation work of the 274 proposals received in the “call for ideas”, we have chosen the better ideas (with the criteria of socio-economic impact, strategic reach, public need and commitment of the public administration and technological content of the proposals) and CDTI will sign collaboration agreements with public users and prepare the Preliminary Market Consultation. CDTI will launch pre-commercial tenders for prototypes and / or technologically innovative services in order to develop non-existing technologies that will solve a public need. CDTI will acquire the solutions and transfer them to interested Spanish public administrations for validation in a real environment. For this new instrument, ERDF and CDTI’s own resources will be used. In total, CDTI is expecting to commit an amount close to 100 million euros.

Are start-ups and SMEs interested in public tendering?
The public sector constitutes a key economic agent for development and companies are aware of this. Some studies by the European Commission place the contribution of public procurement to the GDP of the European Union between 13 and 20%. In Spain, public procurement accounts for approximately 13% of GDP, and although that places us among the least important countries of public procurement within Europe, it is still an important engine for companies. SMEs and technological start-ups value the possibility of having a contract to be able to make the first sale of their products, compared to the traditional scheme of aid for the development of an R&D project, so especially Innovation Procurement tenders, whether in pre-commercial procurement (PCP) or public procurement of innovative solutions (PPI), respond well to the interests of Spanish SMEs and start-ups.

Are there companies working on the ICT field to respond to the current public administrations' needs?
In Spain, the development of Innovation Procurement projects focuses especially on three areas: ICT (76%), health (48%) and environment (30%). This is due to the relevance of the health challenges of an increasingly aging population, of unsustainable ways of life and production, and of the advancement of new technologies. ICT is a crosscutting field, used in almost every other area, and the weight of ICT companies is especially relevant to provide solutions for the areas of health and environment.

Why is it important for CDTI to be part of the Procure2Innovate Network?
The Centre for Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) has been appointed by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (MSIU) as competence centre for innovation procurement in Spain together with ISCIII (National Institute Carlos III for Health) and INTA (National Institute of Aerospace Techniques), acting these three entities as a concerted network under the guidance of MSIU.
Being part of the Procure2Innovate Network is very relevant for us in order to be able to be in contact with other competence centres for Innovation Procurement in Europe and know first-hand the instruments, activities and services that are being developed in other European countries. Especially in this moment of consolidation of the Office and design of our instruments, it gives us a broad vision and helps us to exchange experiences to design effective tools.

Do you have any events planned for the upcoming months?
Part of the normal work of our office is to actively participate in European, national and regional forums of Innovation Procurement. In the coming months we have planned several events to promote our pre-commercial procurement tool, especially for the dissemination of preliminary market consultations in various technologies, as well as the participation in many national and regional forums, especially in the sector of water technologies, transportation, engineering and security, amongst others.