Research call for Smart Procurement programme

The aim of the Tekes Smart Procurement programme is to create smart demand, which will provide the prerequisites for new market creation and growth. Smart demand will allow companies to develop their competitiveness, simultaneously providing the best possible solutions to many of society's major challenges. Upon completion of the programme, the goal is for Finland to be known as a model country of smart demand – one in which smart customers create markets for new internationally competitive innovations.

The target of the research call is to develop new knowledge and competence regarding the impacts of demand on market and company development, and to activate research bodies to cooperate closely with clients who are looking to make innovative procurement. Innovative procurement means searching for new or clearly better solutions by utilising procurement methods and the innovative ability of companies. The research projects selected for funding can focus on innovative procurement in the public sector or on private procurement that encourages innovativeness.

The budget for the call is approximately 3 million euros of research funding. In conjunction with the call, Tekes will also prepare to fund parallel development projects aimed at innovative company procurement and "Innovative public procurements" development projects involving public customers (http://www.tekes.fi/rahoitus/julkisten-palvelujen-tarjoajille/innovatiiviset-julkiset-hankinnat/). The aim is to develop the closest possible cooperation between projects selected for funding in a way that is complementary and genuinely beneficial to as many parties as possible.

Application period: 28 November 2013 – 7 March 2014. The aim is to make decisions on the projects / project packages selected for funding by the beginning of May.

Themes of the Call

The call has three complementary themes. The research projects selected for funding can focus on one or more themes.

1. The impact of innovative procurements on supplier company competitiveness

Innovative procurements have a significant enabling role in developing the competitiveness of supplier companies and their access to markets. For example, closer cooperation with customers and other companies can provide a means for companies to make their solution part of a larger product package or concept. The references gained as a result of innovative procurements can also facilitate access to international markets.

Research projects focusing on this theme are expected to produce new competence and knowledge of a high international level concerning the impacts and impact mechanisms of innovative procurements on international competitiveness and the development of new solutions.

2. Innovative procurement processes

Innovative procurements can be seen as processes with many related phases, methods, challenges and opportunities. The process typically begins with the need for comprehensive specification and then progresses to satisfaction of that need by means of various cooperation mechanisms and procurement procedures. Among other things, the nature and procurement environment of the customer organisation affect the methods used to find and develop solutions. Customer and user orientation in the procurement process contribute to finding solutions that are suitable for real needs.

Innovative procurements are the result of cooperation between several companies, which means that contract models play a key role in the success of that cooperation. Calls for tender and contracts provide the framework for development work and they can include different incentives, which can in turn be used to, for example, share risk. Interpretation of the national procurement legislation in public procurements sets many boundary conditions.

Research project focusing on this theme are expected to produce new competence and knowledge of a high international level concerning innovative processes and the factors affecting them.

3. Managing innovative procurements

One of the requirements for successful innovative procurements is the ability to identify strategically important external resources and the capacity to manage them. Purchaser organisations should see procurements as one tool for strategy implementation.

Sensible demand and procurements can be considered part of change management. In such cases, constant development of activities and controlled risk-taking are emphasised in management.

The right management style can contribute to the success of cooperation among organisations. Especially with regard to the public sector, cooperation between companies and customers is often slight due to strict interpretation of the Act on Public Contracts. Parties should strive to change the prevailing attitude from closed procurements to a more open and extensive market dialogue with companies.

Research project focusing on this theme are expected to produce new competence and knowledge of a high international level concerning the management of innovative procurements.

Evaluation criteria for research project

The following matters will be emphasised when evaluating applications:

  1. The applicability of the project to the themes of the call and the goals of the Smart Procurement programme.

  2. The commercial and other possible utilisation and general applicability, dissemination of results and other broad-based impact (on development of the customer's operations and on the competitiveness of the supplier companies in particular). This is demonstrated in the utilisation plan that is attached to the final research plan. Close cooperation with the beneficiaries is required in the projects. In particular, the aim is to find projects in which the customers show commitment to concrete reform and the implementation of innovative procurements alongside the research project.

  3. A multidisciplinary approach to the topic that furthers learning between sectors. The projects must serve the needs of more than one sector.

  4. The currentness, novelty value and challenge of the topic.

  5. The expertise, ability and competence base required for the research project.

  6. The commitment of the beneficiary organisations, such as public customers and companies, to the project. Commitment is demonstrated by means of funding and other participation (such as steering group work). In terms of projects that fall within the scope of the call, the beneficiaries' share of funding is at least 10% of the total project costs.

Research projects that receive funding will be required to commit to disseminating the results to companies, public customers and other possible beneficiaries. When evaluating the projects, attention will be focused on how the researchers find methods to implement the results.

As a general rule, Tekes funding share is 60% of the project's eligible costs. For large project packages involving close international cooperation, Tekes funding share can be 70% of eligible costs.

Applications must be submitted to Tekes by 7 March 2014 via the Tekes online application service. Applicants are encouraged to discuss their project idea with Tekes experts well in advance.

A networking event for researchers and potential beneficiaries of the results will be held from 9:30 am - 12:30 pm on 14 January.

The application must indicate its focus on the Smart Procurement programme.

Contact persons for the Tekes Smart Procurement programme

Advisor Markku Heimbürger
tel. +358 50 5577 977

Programme Manager Sampsa Nissinen
tel. +358 50 5577 687