Project news
Modifier 02 July 2021
by City of Växjö

Växjö: Procurement for innovation

Vaxjo procurement for innovation
Project members Henric Westergren and Andréa Swedenborg during an official event.
How can a municipality procure something that is not available on the market; a new solution, an innovation? In Växjö Sweden, the municipality applies procurement for innovation, to find new solutions to societal problems in partnership with the business community.

In Växjö, the municipality procures for innovation. The purpose is to find a new way of collaborating between the municipality and companies, to increase the municipality's digitalization pace and find new innovations based on societal problems. However, procuring a new solution that does not exist in the market has its challenges. As a contracting party, you want to find the best mix between quality and economy, without making too many "should” and “must” requirements. Växjö municipality has experienced the importance of leaving the procurement requirements as broad as possible in order not to limit the innovative solutions. Through procurement for innovation, Växjö want to give the innovator room to come up with their own input and thereby push boundaries. Therefore, it is of great importance how the procurement document is formulated, making sure it does not limit the opportunities for innovation.

How does it work in practice, when you cannot procure an available product or service? Växjö instead focuses on procuring a partnership. This means that the procurement is focused on finding the most suitable company, a partner believed to be able to solve the problem in partnership with the municipality. The idea is that the expertise of both parties should be used during the actual development phase that is conducted jointly. The need owner, Växjö municipality, has great operational expertise and can offer a good test bed for the new solution. While the innovator has a deep level of specialist knowledge in their specific area, a knowledge that is not available within the municipality. Together, the partnership forms a good base to jointly develop a really good product / service. The innovator gets the ownership of the solution (IP rights), which also gives the municipality the advantage that the solution is managed and further developed by the innovator (the company).

Växjö municipality recently, for the first time in history, issued two contracts for innovation partnership, which has become possible through the Diaccess project. The procurement process itself has taken longer time than expected, because of the procurement form being new for all parties involved. One of the difficulties has been, that the contract must apply to both the development phase and the actual utilization phase for the product/service. Meaning, the conditions for using the solution are defined before the solution is developed. Now that Växjö municipality has gone through the process for the first time, it is expected to go easier next time. The Diaccess-project will carry out five cycles of innovation procurement and create experiences and learnings along the way. 

You are welcome to contact us in the Diaccess project if you want to hear more about our experiences of innovation procurement so far.

The article is written by Erika Bernstone (Communications manager Diaccess)

Project manager for the Diaccess project is Andréa Swedenborg

Responsible for procurement is Magnus Bringhed