Building Partnerships Training Session: Consortium Building in Innovation Procurement

Innovation procurement is a key mechanism for governments and cities to encourage innovation, aligning with economic, environmental, and social policy objectives. However, it is often unclear what innovation truly entails. And how it is possible to break the traditional procurement frame with innovative solutions. BUILD’s public procurers gathered to exchange the best strategies on innovation adoption. So, what does it take to organise a successful procurers’ exchange? 


Every city faces unique challenges and characteristics in procurement of innovation, so BUILD project partners ensuredthat the knowledge exchange was tailored to various needs. Let´s take a look at our successful strategy for organizing collaborative staff exchanges ensuring an effective and impactful knowledge absorption. 


First: Identification of the exchange scope 

Despite wide-spread online communication, collaboration and exchange among BUILD procurement experts, the in-person staff exchanges were organised to maximize mutual learning. This was facilitated by face-to-face discussions, involvement of the wider group from the procurement offices, and experiential activities. All of them demonstrated the potential of innovation procurement, through the achievements displayed  in the cities. Gathering experts together is the most efficient way to encourage a discussion on common challenges and best practices, creating a dedicated time and space for continuous exchanges. 


Second: Organisation and planning 

The foundation of a successful procurers’ exchange  lies in meticulous preparation. It usually starts months before the exchange dates. For the BUILD project, this began with identifying the target groups – procurement professionals from the participating cities. As public procurers have a busy schedule which can vary from city to city, dedicating the right time during the year was crucial.  

BUILD public procurers were asked to fill in a feedback collection survey, to help tailor the exchange agendas to the specific needs and interests of the participants. The questions included all aspects, from themes, to wishes, roles in the exchange, and also free time activities. Ihis ensured that the agenda was useful and engaging for all procurers. 


Third: Execution of exchanges  

Each staff exchange lasted one and a half working days. Each was packed with presentations, discussions, real cases, and site visits. The exchanges took place first in Turku, then in Tartu and in Rotterdam. 

Innovation procurement is labelled as “business to government model (B2G)”, but in reality, it is a “people to people” model. That’s why it was important to dedicate the right amount of time to technical training and tools, balanced with enough free time and visits, to foster creativity and relations creation.  

At the end, even though our procurers came from different countries, they face the same challenges in scaling up innovation adoption. Strengthening networks proved to be a strategic tool to ensure strong partnerships and successful joint initiatives. 


Fourth: Feedback and reflection 

Post-exchange feedback was critical to analyse the effectiveness of the experience, collect impressions and comments to improve the activity. Lastly, it provided for a consolidated strategy to inspire other cities to do the same and foster a wider adoption. 

Participants were asked to reflect on differences in procurement practices, surprising implementations, and key learnings they could bring back to their cities. This reflective process ensured that the exchanges were not only informative but also actionable. 



The BUILD project’s staff exchanges demonstrate the power of collaborative learning. By sharing best practices and tackling common challenges together, European cities can drive innovation and efficiency in public procurement. Ultimately leading to better services for their citizens. 


In the upcoming articles, we will explore in detail the strengths and weaknesses of Turku, Tartu and Rotterdam’s procurement strategies.  


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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.