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The identification and procurement of innovative solutions to public service needs is one potential way of delivering improvements in quality and delivery of services as well as assisting the public sector to deliver value for money. It can also stimulate innovation in the economy more widely by enabling the market to respond to current and future public service needs. 

The following supporting guidance will help you to encourage and incorporate innovation in your procurement approaches:

Innovation Procurement Plans (IPP)

As set out in the Innovation Nation White Paper (March 2008) each Government department must have an 'Innovation Procurement Plan' (IPP) as part of its commercial strategy. Departmental IPPs should set out how the department, and its subsidiary bodies, will embed the procurement of innovation in their procurement practices and make use of innovative procurement mechanisms. The Treasury Group and OGC IPP can be found here.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has published guidance to departments on the structure and content of departmental IPPs and practical advice in the form of a toolkit.  Please visit the Innovation Procurement Plans page on the BIS website  to access the guidance and to see copies of departments" IPPs.

More information on more information on how procurers can utilise the purchasing power of the public sector to drive both buyer and supplier innovation in the procurement process can be found in the pamphlet "Driving innovation through public procurement".

The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)

The SBRI is a programme to encourage the procurement of innovative technology solutions. It is run by government departments and championed by the Technology Strategy Board. SBRI is a mechanism to enable public sector to engage a broad range of companies in competitions for ideas on specific needs that result in short term development contracts. For further information, please access the SBRI Summary Brochure (PDF, 2.49MB) the SBRI top level process (PDF 80KB) and visit the Technology Strategy Board website

Forward Commitment Procurement

Forward Commitment Procurement (FCP), is a procurement tool to enable organisations to stimulate and harness innovation. It does this by transforming the market for innovative and sustainable solutions, making new and emerging solutions more affordable and widely available, and providing a way to manage the risk of procuring innovative products andservices.  It is a demand pull process that begins from the identification of an unmet need that current products and services cannot deliver or can only do so at excessive cost or with unacceptable risk. FCP involves being a demanding procurer, asking for what you want, not what you think you can get, agreeing to purchase a product or service that currently may not exist and actively creating the market conditions that stimulate and enable the supply chain to deliver at an agreed costs. For further information please visit the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills website or see the case studies below. 

Innovation Case Studies

These are a selection of case studies which demonstrate creative public procurement fostering innovation.

Forward Commitment Procurement - Read how this means of matching demand with supply is being used to stimulate new solutions and better value for money in a range of sectors.

VEN Group (PDF, 163KB)- A ground breaking approach which sees SMEs collaborating to compete for business. Read how SMEs are collaborating to increase their ability to compete for larger scale public and private sector contracts in the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Becta (PDF, 186KB)- Becta is harnessing technology for education, skills and children's services. Read how it is helping learners achieve their full potential, while transforming the education experience.

The Learning and Skills Council (PDF, 164KB)- Read how through transforming its procurement processes the LSC has opened up new opportunities for voluntary sector and community providers.

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