How to empower sustainable cities via innovation procurement

As the world embraces the challenges of sustainability and environmental consciousness, innovation procurement emerges as a powerful tool. It can make cities stronger in leading the change towards a greener and more sustainable future. In this article, we showcase three inspiring case stories. They exemplify the transformative power of innovation procurement in driving positive change across urban landscapes.

  • Finland’s green deal: Paving the way for fossil-free worksites

In 2020, Turku City participated in their country’s mission: achieving fossil-free worksites by 2025. To turn this vision into reality, eco-friendly machinery for East side infra maintenance was requested. In their innovation procurement strategy, they embraced open tendering with green criteria. They sought machinery compliant with Euro 6 & Stage III B standards, incorporating real-time tracking for efficiency.

The results were a win-win for many stakeholders. Service providers were incentivized with up to €20,000/year BONUS for carbon-neutral innovations, fueling their commitment to sustainability. Through a 3 year + 2 optional year contract, Finland’s journey proved that innovation procurement holds the key to fostering sustainability and efficiency in public projects, setting an inspiring example for cities across Europe.

  • Rotterdam’s zero emission deliveries

Gemeente Rotterdam set an ambitious target of achieving zero emission deliveries of goods and services by 2025. To achieve this, the Procurement Department and the Department of Sustainability and Mobility joined forces, driving changes through innovation procurement.

Rotterdam’s approach was really innovative – they made emission-free transport a pivotal factor in evaluations and incorporated award criteria in tenders. Contract management played a crucial role in verifying emission-free delivery through fleet management systems, ensuring accountability and transparency. Rotterdam’s proactive stance on green alternatives, such as hydrogen fuel, bike, foot transportation, and electricity, highlighted their commitment to sustainability.

In December 2022, Rotterdam’s case study revealed their inspiring journey, showcasing transformative innovation procurements like electric garbage trucks and hydrogen vacuum cleaners. The city’s foresight demonstrated how strategic procurement choices can genuinely impact the environment, setting a precedent for other cities in Europe.

  • Mobility as a Service (MaaS): Revolutionizing urban transportation

The cities of Tartu and Tallinn embarked on an ongoing innovation procurement to address the pressing need for Mobility as a Service (MaaS) solutions. Recognizing the lack of suitable solutions in the market, they aimed at creating a self-financed business case without municipal subsidies.

To foster innovation and engagement, a competitive dialogue approach was adopted, involving multiple companies and harnessing diverse insights and expertise. The process, initiated in late 2021 and set to conclude by August 2023, required meticulous attention to legal and GDPR aspects, reflecting the cities’ commitment to responsible innovation.

With 50% state support, Tartu and Tallinn self-financed this transformative venture. They managed to assembl a skilled team of project managers, lawyers, public service designers, procurement specialists, data managers, and mobility experts. Their meticulous approach to crafting a comprehensive and technically sound initial task, coupled with global market research and collaboration with IoT (Internet of Things) and mobility experts, laid the foundation for a visionary mobility solution.

By embracing innovation, cities can lead the charge towards a greener, smarter, and more resilient future. Let’s celebrate the transformative potential of innovation procurement and drive positive change, one city at a time.

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Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.