Navigating the Landscape of Innovation Procurement: Lessons learnt by cities

The second pill from PROCEDIN’S Whitepaper on adoption of innovation procurement draws insights from eight illustrative case studies. They unfold the journeys of cities, shedding light on their unique challenges, successes, and visions for the future. Each of them provides a nuanced understanding of how cities navigate the complexities of innovation procurement adoption. Beyond the use of formal innovation procurement instruments, their cases reveal that it is crucial to encompass incremental changes to procurement systems. Such as adapting specifications and award criteria to encourage supplier innovation, making public buyers more attractive to innovative suppliers.

Varied drivers and initiatives

Motivations to venture into Procurement of Innovation (POI) are multifaceted and involve diverse ambitions and methodologies. They range from financial incentives, such as European funding, to a deep-seated personal ideology valuing innovation.

Cities often turn to POI when standard procurement procedures prove inadequate for addressing their evolving needs, especially in complex areas such as sustainability and technology. Understanding these diverse starting points is crucial for comprehending the distinct journeys cities undertake in their strategies, but also for exhibiting their perspectives on POI current state and future potential.

Overarching lessons

The diverse journeys bring to light three main lessons:


Innovation Procurement extends beyond the use of formal instruments. Cities can achieve POI through incremental changes in procurement systems, adapting specifications, and award criteria to foster supplier innovation.


Recognizing that innovation in procurement serves a broader purpose means to address complex issues like sustainability, circularity, climate crisis, and energy transition, rather than an end in itself.


There are numerous entry points for starting the POI journey. Each with varied pathways for early adoption and subsequent integration into the organisation. Success factors for these phases of implementation are diverse, emphasizing the need for flexibility and adaptability.

POI adoption has a multifaceted nature. It is more than a formal instrument. Moreover, it encourages a holistic understanding of innovation in procurement.

Stick to our upcoming article pill to learn the starting points for local success in innovation procurement!


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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.