Starting Innovation Procurement Journey: Insights and Advice from Leaders

In the third PROCEDIN project’s whitepaper pill, we learn that initiating the procurement of innovation (POI) journey involves a multitude of triggers and dark spots. Through interviews with procurement leaders, various starting points and valuable advice have emerged, providing essential insights for municipalities venturing into the realm of innovation-driven procurement.


Starting Point 1: Finding Synergies

For many interviewees, instigating change within municipalities stems from diverse sources, such as the appointment of a new purchasing manager with innovative experience or a progressive city council with a vision for the future. External drivers, including European or national policies (particularly those related to sustainability), also play a pivotal role. Successful integration of POI often involves aligning personal or municipal goals with broader initiatives, forging synergies with EU, national, and local sustainability objectives.

Starting Point 2: Seeking Help Outside

Cities have leveraged external support at various levels to kickstart their POI initiatives:

  • European Level

Accessing funding from the European Union, particularly via Horizon Europe and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has been a driving force. Collaboration with European networks, even in the absence of specific projects or funding, has proven to be beneficial. Important European networks include: ICLEIBig Buyers or the Urban Agenda Partnership for Innovative and Responsible Public Procurement.

  • National Level

Collaboration with national public procurement competence centres, NGOs, and initiatives has provided municipalities with expertise, experience, and capacity. National competence centres have played a crucial role in supporting municipalities in complex areas such as energy tenders and sustainability.

  • Regional Collaboration

What has also proved advantageous is the collaboration with other municipalities. Especially those geographically proximate. Proximity and political alignment with larger municipalities have allowed some cities to capitalize on opportunities they might not have had otherwise.

  • Internal Support

Municipalities have found support within their own structures, either through “outsourcing” routine procurement to free up central teams for strategic and innovative purchasing or by involving innovation departments and experts in procurement.

Starting Point 3: Start Small

Two principles illustrate the potential to increase the development of POI capability:

  • Simplified Process

Focusing on promoting innovation, green, and social developments through procurement as a means to achieve broader strategic objectives. This involves simplifying processes, prioritising collaboration, and emphasising professional networking, leading to an integrated procurement strategy.

  • Mindset Shift

Aiming to build a committed and progressive council, it is sensible to take an opportunistic approach and advocate incremental change. Starting with “low-hanging fruits,” celebrating successes, and emphasizing individual ambassadors can contribute to a shift in mindset across departments.


  1. Diverse Entry Points

The interviews underscore that POI has diverse entry points. Municipalities should be open to seizing opportunities arising from changes in local circumstances.

  1. Adaptability and Flexibility

Successful POI adoption requires adaptability and flexibility, recognizing that different municipalities may have unique starting points and motivations.

  1. Collaboration is the Key

Collaboration, both internally and externally, is a common theme across successful POI journeys. Engaging with networks, competence centres, and collaborative initiatives amplifies the impact and benefits.

Above-mentioned insights and advices offer a roadmap for success of municipalities willing to increase their efficiency and innovation. Adopting POI, while keeping themselves informed about this powerful tool and learning by the best cases, is the best winning strategy.

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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.