Innovation clauses in public procurement

Innovation clauses in public procurement are a way to encourage contracting authorities and interested companies to work together to find new and sustainable solutions to societal challenges. Innovation clauses are provisions in the specifications or contract documents that allow innovative aspects to be added or adapted during contract performance. These may include, for example, the use of new materials, technologies, methods or processes that provide improved quality, efficiency or sustainability.

The benefits of innovation clauses include:

  • For the contracting authority: it can benefit from the creativity and expertise of the market, without having to know in advance exactly what it wants or needs. It can also respond flexibly to changing needs or circumstances, getting the best value for money.
  • For the interested companies: they can demonstrate and exploit their innovation potential, gaining a competitive advantage. They can also build a long-term relationship with the contracting authority, creating greater trust and loyalty.

An example of an innovation clause is the following:

During the performance of the contract, the contractor may submit proposals to improve the contract in terms of quality, efficiency or sustainability, provided that these proposals do not affect the essential characteristics or objectives of the contract. The contracting authority will evaluate these proposals and decide whether or not to accept them. If the proposals are accepted, the contract documents will be amended accordingly, in compliance with the principles of equal treatment, transparency and proportionality.

An example of a project in which innovation clauses were applied is the "Smart Highway" project, in which the Dutch government worked with a construction company to develop an interactive and sustainable highway that uses, among other things, luminous paint, solar panels, electric charging points and dynamic traffic information.

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