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At this session the Oxford Procurement of Government Outcomes Club (Oxford POGO Club) considered public procurement and innovation.
During this session, we, the Oxford POGO Club, grappled with the timely question, 'How can we release the potential of public procurement to stimulate innovation & drive growth?'.
Chaired by Professor Anne Davies and co-chaired by Malcolm John Charles Harbour, CBE, our expert panel included Paul Stein CBE, a member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology, Dr Ian Brotherston, Head of Government Levers at Innovate UK, Professor Elvira Uyarra from the University of Manchester, and Professor Simon Collinson from the University of Birmingham.
Our focus on innovation this month was timely. The UK Parliament has been considering a major bill that the government promises will 'transform public procurement' including by 'slashing red tape and driving innovation' (Cabinet Office and others, 2022). Late December last year the government published a 'Letter to the Prime Minister on delivering national priorities through public procurement' (the Letter). The Letter stated: 'Given the scale of government spending, even small changes to prioritise innovative solutions, where appropriate, could produce significant incentives in the supply chain' and provided various recommendations (Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology, 2022).
'Innovation' in the public sector can mean many things and may be influenced by many factors. A helpful framework is provided by Professor Lena Brogaard who highlights that innovation can be about a product, process and/or service innovation. Professor Brogaard also identifies different factors that influence the success of public-private innovation partnerships: 'Structural factors: Institutional setting of formal and informal rules, regulation and support', 'Collaborative process factors: Interaction among partners', 'Participant-driven factors (Ability to drive the process forward).' Brogaard (2021), p151.
In this session, we discussed the Letter's recommendations and wider issues of innovation and public procurement.
The Procurement of Government Outcomes (POGO) Club is a knowledge sharing initiative that is open to anyone interested in capacity building in public procurement and in collaboration to improve social outcomes. We host monthly calls, maintain a mailing list, and share other resources. Participants come from many different disciplines, sectors, and countries. Our chair is Anne Davies, Professor of Law and Public Policy.
Interested? Join the mailing list by emailing Jessica Reedy. Find us on LinkedIn here.
We offer the following seven recommendations covering three themes of “signalling”, “governance” and “delivery”.
Through successful demand signalling, NASA in the United States has accelerated the growth of private companies like SpaceX to deliver new human launch capabilities and technologies, reducing costs and reliance on other nations.[footnote 3] Sweden has been able to support its climate goals, for example delivering a 95 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from participating organisations by increasing procurement of electric vehicles.[footnote 4]
Governance and accountability
To achieve the ‘double dividend’ of more efficient public services and economic growth, government should commit to investing in innovation through procurement and hold itself to account.