Municipalities wanting to procure Smart City innovations often face multiple challenges, such as not knowing about potential state-of-the-art solutions or reaching mainly local or big suppliers. Oftentimes, suitable innovative companies are not even aware that cities in other parts of Europe are looking for solutions similar to what they develop. Therefore, a Market Consultation tool was developed by BABLE Smart Cities under the SPARCS project to address those challenges. This tool allows cities to reach out to a growing European-wide network of innovative suppliers. Its benefits have been experienced first-hand by the municipality of Maia, Portugal, one of the Fellow Cities in the SPARCS project.
Market consultations have a twofold purpose: to inform of the tender preparation process and to inform suppliers of cities’ procurement plans. By engaging with the market, cities can assess the capabilities of economic operators to deliver the solution they are looking for but at the same time evaluate how feasible they actually are. Furthermore inviting interested parties to be involved early on, improves their ability to respond with high-quality applications.
The 2014 Procurement Directive from the European Commission highly encourages Member States to look beyond their own borders in procurement procedures and take advantage of the entire European market. The BABLE Knowledge Platform and Community of Smart City professionals from across Europe enables cities to reach suppliers in markets they traditionally may not interact with. This mechanism is particularly useful for pre-commercial procurement (PCP) and public procurement of innovation (PPI).
What the Directive refers to as Preliminary Market Consultations can have a variety of names used by cities across Europe. Whether the Market Consultation is preliminary, open, prior, or pre-market, cities are referring here to similar concepts. Likewise, if instead the process is called a dialogue or engagement, the goals are still the same.
BABLE’s Market Consultation Tool allows city representatives to easily inform themselves on the state of the Smart City Innovation they are looking to procure and automatically inform suppliers in that field of their plan. The hundreds of Smart City companies in the BABLE community ensure that the procurement will reach out to a cross-border market audience that shares the goal of accelerating the implementation of innovation in cities.
Furthermore, if you work for a city which is interested in a solution that another city is consulting the market for, you can follow their path and learn from their experience. The aim of this tool feature is to foster knowledge exchange between cities, promote standardisation and pave the way for joint procurement by identifying interested parties earlier in the process.
The municipality of Maia, one of the most industrialised municipalities in Portugal and an important transportation hub, intends to implement a Building Integrated PV (BIPV) demo-site in Maia City Hall, Paços do Concelho. This is planned within the scope of the SPARCS project and coordinated with Porto Energy Agency (AdEPorto) and EDP NEW.
Building-integrated photovoltaics are a dual purpose construction materials that use the photovoltaic effect to produce clean electricity and double as the exterior climate screen of a structure. The purpose of the demonstrator is to study the viability of BIPV technology in existing buildings, creating the possibility to replicate the solution at a large scale. Thus, the aim of this project is to install PV film on the current windows, without compromising the existing architecture.
The team received inputs from very specialised and innovative companies on what the state of the art of the solution is. This experience has brought many valuable insights as presented below.
What were the advantages of using the tool?
We started the Market Consultation phase by identifying possible technology providers and contacted them individually. This approach not only took a long time, as it didn’t bring the expected results since most companies weren’t providing the exact solution we were looking for. Using the tool, the process became easier as the solution was previously described and only the organizations who were interested would register to participate at the event. We then did only one event with all the interested parties which saved us a lot of time as well. Additionally, BABLE has a large community, so they were able to go further and identify different companies from the ones we originally targeted.
What did you learn from it?
When doing a consultation to the market, especially when looking for a specific technology, it will generate better results to let the interested parties come to you, instead of the other way around.
Would you consider using it again?
Definitely yes! Using this tool can be a real time saver, key element to the success of the projects.
The next steps in the development of the Market Consultation tool will be to collect feedback from all cities on the usability of the tool and other meaningful features, as well as sharing further resources procurement of innovation and suggestions for market consultation.
You can learn more about Market Consultation, its benefits and limitations on the BABLE platform, with the BABLE Guide to Market Consultation or get in touch with us!