Smarter spending through new procurement thinking

Connected Places Catapult has launched the Innovation Procurement Empowerment Centre (IPEC) to upskill public sector buyers in innovation friendly procurement approaches and to generate greater regional research and development activity and private sector investment.

Britain’s public sector spends £300 billion a year buying goods, services and works from the private sector, of which £60 billion is procured by the UK’s local government alone. 

This represents a huge market and a significant lever which public authorities can use to create and shape markets. 

However, despite all this potential to drive strategic outcomes, public procurement is largely under-exploited as a mechanism for sparking and scaling innovation. 

The UK Government’s Innovation Strategy notes “a low appetite for risk and experimentation” in public procurement, due to “the overall culture, expertise and incentive structure of the public sector”. 

As a result, UK public procurement is still largely characterised by procedures which over-specify on requirements (leaving little room for innovation) and selection based largely on price. Faced with a whole box of tools, procurement professionals invariably reach for the same procedure each time. 

Innovation Procurement Empowerment Centre (IPEC) 

Our new centre draws on practical experience, knowledge and network that Connected Places Catapult has established in the field of innovation-friendly procurement over several years. 

Through IPEC we will inspire and empower public authorities to adopt new procurement behaviours through practical support and create robust evidence which makes the case for change and collective action. 

Visit the microsite for more information and to join the IPEC community: 

Based on our leadership in this space, we have agreed to chair a World Economic Forum global taskforce on innovation procurement later this year. More details will follow in March. 

Connected Places Catapult and the University of Birmingham have also agreed to renew a partnership aimed at empowering public authorities to harness their spending power to spark new solutions and support the growth of regional innovation economies.

In recent years the Catapult has published several reports, thought leadership pieces, guidance notes and case studies on the topic of innovation in procurement. Here is a selection:  



Case Studies

Contact the project team: 

To find out more, contact Connected Places Catapult’s Ecosystem Director for Place Leadership, Sam Markey.