Category 18 April 2019

Green Pre-commercial public procurement at the Stockholm County Council

By acting as technologically demanding first buyers, public procurers can drive eco-innovation from the demand side. In addition to improving the quality and sustainability of public services, this can help creating market opportunities for companies and their innovative and sustainable products and services. The Stockholm County Council actively uses Pre-commercial Public Procurement (PCP) to improve its public transportation and other services while reducing environmental impact.

The challenge

The Stockholm County Council (SCC) first introduced pre-commercial sustainable procurement when looking for new eco-friendly ambulances in 2005. The main driver for the new procurement methodology was the need for reducing the environmental impact and promoting a healthier living environment, whilst at the same time offering high quality ambulance services to the public.

The measure

The procurers’ overall objective to use the pre-commercial public procurement is to define new products and services of which they are in need (they will be the end-users of the product). Often however these improvements are so technologically demanding that no commercially viable solution yet exists on the market. New research and development (R&D) is the solution. Pre-commercial procurement is therefore the procurement of eco-innovation and R&D services. During the pre-commercial phase research is done and the new product developed, prototyped and tested. Afterwards the public administration can proceed with the commercialisation of a technology via the normal procurement process. SCC has introduced strict sustainability criteria in the PCP process.

The most important PCP results by the SCC are the following:

More than half of the Stockholm County public transport uses renewable fuels;World’s first green ambulance in 2009;Innovative green IT equipment in Stockholm County Council;Reduced carbon footprint other emissions;Substantial change in the way of thinking towards green and innovative solutions;Creating demand for green and innovative solutions on the market.

Lessons learnt

PCS enables the public sector to procure goods and services better adapted to their needs. On the other hand it is also supporting private demand. The suppliers, private companies, have the opportunity to develop innovative goods or services, which in the long run can enhance their profit.

PCP reduces risks and uncertainties typical for R&D, prototyping and testing: the suppliers share this risk with the procurers who commit to public grant partial funding for R&D in a specific project. The Swedish case is a ‘win-win’ situation, with SCC providing support to the innovation competence of firms and support to business in general by fully funding the whole R&D process and getting the desired innovative goods.

A specific success factor in the case of Sweden is the good level of dialogue with suppliers, which helps to better understand the market while the companies to become acquainted with the real needs of the procurers. Also important is support from higher political levels and administration stakeholders, as well as strategic planning.

Further deployment

PCP by the SCC is estimated to be 6 on the GML scale; the concept is implemented to full scale in the domains of sustainable transport, healthcare and administration.


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