We have written extensively that innovation in procurement isn’t just about new ideas, but that evidence shows that procurements open to innovation are also more open small & diverse business and start-ups. Our analysis of procurements in 280 cities, found that cities have only just begun to open up a sizable percentage of opportunities to innovation, but as they set goals going forward, we want to provide some tangible inspiration.
Of the hundreds of innovative procurements we are tracking, we have selected three opportunities to illustrate what we mean by “innovative”. For us, a procurement is innovative when the RFP/RFI/RFQ/tender either explicitly asks for innovation, or provides an implicit opportunity to do things differently.
1. Suburban Bike Share RFP
Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), CA
SACOG invited proposals from established firms, start-ups, and nonprofits to launch shared mobility services including, but not limited to, bike share in three suburban cities within the Sacramento region.
Two features made this RFP innovative. Firstly, it framed a new and future oriented challenge: to implement bike sharing in low-density areas. Secondly, it opened up the opportunity by not limiting the solutions to bike share, but other forms of shared mobility that could deliver the desired outcome.
2. Street Sign Cleaning Tender
With “Traffic Signs Cleaning & Asset GPS Survey Services” Dublin City Council looked for suppliers to clean Dublin’s traffic signs. While the council invited submissions from any competent provider, it was particularly interested in vendors who could introduce smart city technologies to also generate a digital survey of street signs.
It was only on second look that we realized the innovation in Dublin’s tender as it confronted the market with a difficult task: it called for expertise across two very different industries, urban cleaning and digital surveying.
3. Universal Playground Design RFQ
City of Cambridge, MA
Cambridge wants to develop its first playground to demonstrate “Universal Design”, an approach that aims to create an environment free of physical, emotional or sensory barriers to anyone.
This RFP is well written but in many ways conventional — it asks for qualified landscape consultants with references in working with the public and private sector. Its innovation comes from articulating a new need and requiring “human-centered design skills” and community co-creation from the team, creating an opening for new entrants or partnerships and breaking the traditional playground design mould.
Want to learn more about what matters to make your city more open to small business, start-ups and new ideas? Let me know any questions or ideas.