Pre-commercial procurement programme: from MIUR €100 million to innovation in the Public Administration
A tool to provide the Public Administration with high-tech services that are not yet on the market, developed to meet specific needs and that encourage extensive development in key fields including health, energy, transport and security.
These are the pre-commercial procurement agreements, an innovative approach that focuses exclusively on research and development activities and provides for the sharing of risks and opportunities between public and private bodies. This was the main topic discussed during the workshop “Pre-commercial procurement programme for innovative solutions in the PA” that was held in Rome at the headquarters of the Agency for Digital Italy (AGiD).
AGiD has recently signed an agreement with the Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) to promote and test this innovative approach in the PA that will be supported by MIUR through calls worth €100 million overall (allocated under the Cohesion Action Plan 2007-2013) that will focus on the development of innovative services in the public administrations of the Convergence Regions – Calabria, Campania, Puglia and Sicily.
“This is an extremely important initiative for MIUR since it inaugurates a new way of doing research and development aimed to meet the social needs of the community and that is part of the new National Research Programme that will be presented soon”, said Fabrizio Cobis, from the MIUR Directorate-General for the Coordination, Promotion, and Valorisation of Research. Health and care services, environment, cloud services, civil protection and tourism are some of the fields in which the new innovative solutions will be developed and tested, with reference to the 42 expressions of interest eligible for resource allocation, of which 30 under the responsibility of MIUR and 12 of the Ministry of Economic Development (MISE), respectively.
The innovative approach of service delegation and the characteristics of the intellectual property of the ideas developed were presented by Mauro Draoli, from AGiD’s Citizens, Enterprises and Technological Transfer Unit. “Pre-commercial procurement is a procedure of public tender for acquiring research and development services that are not on the market yet, on which the provider holds a considerable part of industrial rights, including the right to marketing the service”, explained Draoli.
Pre-commercial procurement generally consists of more phases (usually three), including the publication of a call by the awarding authority and the selection of several commercial operators, chosen according to the quality of the solution they propose. Passing from one stage to another, the number of the selected commercial operators is reduced progressively, a prototype is developed and the solution is experimentally tested, with at least two enterprises selected for the final stage, in order to keep in line with the criterion of the most cost-effective proposal.
Differently from common tenders, the budget is divided among several economic operators during the different stages. “When the selection is completed, the economic operators will be able to exploit the solutions developed also in markets different from the Public Administration, by offering their service also on international markets” said Draoli. Conversely, in the case of intellectual property rights arising from the implementation of services, the awarded enterprise and the awarding authority will be co-owners, while the marketing rights will go the former. Of the €100 million allocated by MIUR to this new procurement programme, 80 will be allocated to the R&D stage, while additional €20 million will be used to carry out small-scale business testing: a useful stage before reaching the global market.