Government Buys Innovation



Policy areas

Organisation name NIDO

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Contact person: Frédéric Baervoets, Manager Innovation lab

NIDO’s core business consists of enabling innovation within governments, public services and public administrations by supporting civil servants in their quest for change. Its new project Government Buys Innovation is a modern version of public procurement, focused on the active search for innovative solutions available on the market. By reconsidering the way of interaction between the public and the private sector, NIDO aims to transform public entities into pioneers for new creative ideas, modernising countries in the benefit of companies and citizens.

Its novelty consists of not only making the goal of a more modern public sector feasible, but also in changing the principles of the classic public procurement. It provides assistance and the possibility of improvement to any public sector entity. NIDO’s work consists of support and expertise to find the best and most innovative result for every specific project. Its expertise consists of asking the right questions, helping to formulate and frame the problem. It guides civil servants in the process of open mindedness and creativity, and tries to engage businesses that might offer out-of-the-box approaches. Read more here.

So far, Government Buys Innovation has focused on only local businesses and solutions. The main goal was to be well known and have a regular inflow of possible solutions from businesses all over the country.

Currently, ‘Government Buys Innovation’ is conducting two experiments and two market consultations. The team is in contact with over twenty public entities for potential future challenges; this is a good basis to indicate the potential of the project. After about six months, it can already be seen that Government Buys Innovation is growing steadily. Given its rapid advancements, it is only to be expected that it will gain even more traction once there is greater awareness and word-of-mouth recommendations.

…In less than a year Government Buys Innovation has managed to attract more than 50 businesses and accompanied five public procurement projects. Two challenges have fully passed the evaluation stage and are momentarily being experimented with. These two experiments are about improving the services in 112 emergency call centres and simplifying human resource procedures for federal civil servants.

Additionally, as Government Buys Innovation does not require any special expertise or infrastructure, it is easily implementable in any administrative context. Our value lies precisely in not being experts in the fields to which solutions are being sought, in order to ask the right questions and allow an open minded approach to each challenge.

The core idea of Government Buys Innovation could be replicated in any country and at any level and similar approaches, trying to reduce administrative burdens for private entities and enhancing cooperation and cocreation between the private and the public level might already exist in other countries. As long as civil servants can have some assistance by lawyers specialised in public procurement, any public entity with an interest in innovation, ideation and design thinking could adopt our approach to their workspace. Adaptation is only necessary with regard to templates, evaluation criteria and possibly communication, given that these may be different due to context and culture.

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