Interview with Luis Ferreira, coordinator of the Portuguese competence centre for innovation procurement (ANI)
What is the official name of the new Portuguese Competence Centre for Innovation Public Procurement?
The name is 'Procure+i', which was chosen to work in both Portuguese and English.
The Procure+i website is now available. What is its structure and what kind of information can stakeholders find in it?
Yes, the Procure+i website is now available. It is divided into sections dedicated to informing the national context and concepts associated with the Innovation Public Procurement (IPP) ,one section dedicated to the presentation of services, and another dedicated to the interests of the national community with an interest in the Public Procurement of Innovation and its support. Through the website, all stakeholders will be able to obtain information and various documents that may be useful to learn more about practices for public procurement of innovation.
When is the Portuguese Competence Centre expected to start operating? Where will it work?
The Portuguese competence centre is in the experimental implementation phase; that is, we are still implementing an internal capacity-building process to ensure some of our services. However, the 'Dissemination of best practices and production of manuals and guidelines', as well as the 'Legal support' service are already available. Procure+i will be fully operational in June 2023.
In terms of human resources, how many people will collaborate with the Competence Centre?
At the moment, there are ten colleagues from ANI and IMPIC collaborating with the competence centre, covering functions directly associated with the development of services, communication, information systems and technologies, and the financial area.
And what services will the Portuguese Competence Centre for Innovation Public Procurement provide?
The Portuguese Competence Centre for Innovation Public Procurement will provide the following services: 'Dissemination of best practices and production of manuals and guidelines'; 'Legal support'; Support to Horizon Europe PCP/PPI applications; Workshops and training; Intermediation in Public Procurement of Innovation processes
A study released in October last year by the National Innovation Agency estimated that innovation public procurement would triple by 2030, reaching a figure of €3.8 billion a year. Is this Procure+i's goal?
This is an estimated projection of the potential of the Innovation Public Procurement market in Portugal, based on a methodology that used benchmarks of Public Procurement of Innovation in European countries and gives us a good indication for developing a gradual path. This study already identifies many of the change needs that will need to be implemented, namely those associated with procurement practices and public policies, to allow this potential to be achieved. Procure+i's goal is to contribute at the level of capacity-building of contracting authorities so that more innovation procurement happens in Portugal and the country's low-performance status in Innovation Public Procurement is substantially different in five years.
Why is this Portuguese Competence Centre important, and which sectors could benefit most from an increase in innovation procurement? What will be the main challenges?
The existence of this Competence Centre in Portugal is extremely important as it is primarily an instrument to raise awareness of the importance of Innovation Public Procurement and its strategic use among Portuguese contracting authorities and economic operators. The centre is also a gateway for those who are unfamiliar with public procurement of innovation and want to obtain information, guidance and support services. In principle, all public sectors will be able to benefit from more innovation in their services; however, there are sectors where this potential is more evident, such as health, transport and infrastructure, environment, security and defence. The main challenges arise with the need to eliminate several barriers that limit further implementation of IPP in Portugal, which are related to the widespread level of low awareness of the subject, the non-existence of a community of practice and the non-professionalisation of the public purchaser.
What is the importance of being part of the Procure2Innovate network and that this project had in the implementation of this Competence Centre?
I would start with the importance of the Procure2innovate project in the implementation of the competence centre. It was extremely important, as it allowed us to have close access to references of implementation models from other Competence Centres, which are very diverse and already have a track record in supporting the Public Procurement of Innovation. It was also possible, in a natural way, to understand the purpose of a few existing services and observe how they have evolved over time and why. The project exposed us to experiences and fostered the creation of trusting relationships, which triggered fundamental learning to prioritise the activities to be developed by the future competence centre and its design. Continuing to be part of the European network of P2I competence centres is a necessary condition for developing our competence centre, as it will allow us to maintain proximity to an international community that is active in the Innovation Public Procurement, exchange best practices, and enhance future cooperation.