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Position Paper

Opportunities to tackle COVID-19 and similar crises through Innovation Procurement

– a legal and economic perspective -

Abstract

Global sanitary crises, like the present COVID-19, stress an opportunity to take measures in preparation for future needs which require innovation. While an exceptional procedure, namely the Negotiated Procedure without prior publication, provides contracting authorities with a means to react immediately to an extreme urgency that requires the procurement of supplies, works or services at TRL 9, and other accelerated procedures can be used for urgent purchases at TRL 9, there is still further substantial work to be done at lower TRLs, in order to develop, test and produce new or improved solutions for the mid and long term. Innovation procurement, through Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) and Public Procurement of Innovative Solutions (PPI), offers contracting authorities the opportunity to prepare their sound efforts, and cooperate through joint procurement, to tackle health crises in a timely manner. Moreover, expertise centres (like IACS in Spain and Innoviris in Belgium) can have an important role to support contracting authorities in the needs analysis, SOTA-analysis, technical evaluation, prototype testing, and to steer the medical sector towards the notification bodies for the conformity testing.

In this context, this position paper presents, first, an overview of the actual crisis and critical facts, which pose the need of urgent public action. Secondly, the paper refers to the main European legal background on public procurement, and cross-border countermeasures, notably the EC guidance on the COVID-19 emergency, that recommends looking at alternative solutions and engaging with the market. The third section proposes a practical legal approach for extreme urgency, urgent action and innovation procurement, in line with the required technology readiness levels. A proper needs and SOTA analyse, as well as technical evaluation and testing, can be supported by expert centres. The fourth section shows how joint procurement can be effectively used. Section five, provides an analysis of the economic scenarios to support feasible decisions and desired action aimed to steer a sound public procurement. Finally, section six offers some conclusions and recommendations.


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