IPEC Research Symposium  


IPEC Research Symposium

As part of our work to realise the opportunities arising from over £300 billion annual UK public procurement spend, this week we participated in the first IPEC Research Symposium, organised by the Innovation Procurement Empowerment Centre at the amazing Alliance Manchester Business School. This brought together academics from leading universities across the UK – Manchester, Birmingham, Bath, Cardiff, Stirling, Nottingham, Oxford, Lancaster – and Autonomous University of Madrid. 30 speakers, researchers and policy leads from around the UK convened to share evidence and ideas to boost the impact of innovation procurement.  

The Innovation Procurement Empowerment Centre (IPEC) is a major initiative of Connected Places Catapult and a key plank of our work is to develop research capacity in this critical area. We have entered a long-term partnership with the Universities of Birmingham and Manchester, gathering evidence to build the case for doing procurement differently.  It will generate tools for policy development and support public and private sectors in implementing innovation through procurement, driving investment and better outcomes.  

After being ‘strategically caffeinated’ the brilliant speakers highlighted the increasing global focus on innovation procurement as places and public bodies seek to respond to key challenges whilst needing to do more with less. Emerging research demonstrated the quantitative impact that the use of innovation procurement can have on driving firm productivity, using cutting edge network analysis to investigate regional procurement supply chains and how the use of AI Language learning models can provide new insights to analyse the complex supply chains of key public sectors and industries. Great examples from Spain, and a guest speaker from UK experts Tussell showed how clever analysis unlocks value from existing data sources.  

A key theme of the symposium was on the multiple ways innovation can drive procurement. Highlights were the Birmingham University research on local initiatives to deliver housing upgrades to meet the climate crisis, and how local procurement spend regenerates areas and supports local employment. This aligns closely with the Catapult’s West Midlands Diatomic project and national plans for Local Policy Innovation Partnership (LPIP) hubs. They demonstrated the depth of our local partnerships and breadth of our work. 

The procurement landscape is currently undergoing significant change with the new procurement act, where the Connected Places Catapult has played an active role in championing innovation ambitions. However, researchers highlighted demands for better quality and transparent data (both quantitative and qualitative), along with the continued need to promote best practice and real-world case studies showing innovation procurement delivering better outcomes. This is an area of focus for IPEC and builds on the amazing work already being done to demonstrate the ‘Art of the possible’ – the title of our successful recently published report! 

We are currently working with our stakeholders to develop future themes and will be commissioning new partnership research, building the evidence base to reinforce the case for innovation procurement. Our success in securing new Researchers in Residence in specialist areas of Procurement will further build our research capacity. The challenges are clear, but the opportunities are enormous. Innovation Procurement will be an essential tool for places to drive their innovation ecosystems and address local and global needs.  

Lots more to come …

Further reading