A unique PCP-approach to develop Smarter Personal Protective Systems by 2017

What is Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP)?

PCP is a phased approach for purchasing R&D services by procurers for the development of innovative products, services or processes by enterprises/research centres that are not yet available on the market. The overall goal is: 

  • to solve socio-economic challenges
  • to improve the performance, functionality of public services

One of the biggest advantages of PCP is the sharing of both opportunities and risks by both the public buyers and the private suppliers. It allows public purchasers to get innovative solutions to satisfy challenging needs, and support enterprises in their R&D. 

Why should my company or research centre participate to  the pre-commercial tender Smart@fire? 

  • Smart@Fire provides financial support to businesses/research centres in their R&D efforts
  • The procurers act as launching customer for companies involved in the pre-commercial procurement
  • Although financial support is received, enterprises keep most of the Intellectual Property Rights, the procurers obtain usage rights
  • Through the market consultations a bridge is built between the demand (procurer) and supply (enterprises) side
  • PCP is a flexible approach with extensive negotiations between all parties involved


The Pre-commercial Procurement approach used in Smart@Fire!

Combining strengths and expertise from various countries and sectors, Smart@fire provides financial support to companies and researchers. For this it uses pre-commercial procurement, a unique and novel procurement method developed by the Flemish Innovation Agency.

Preliminary phase: needs assessment

A large scale needs assessment was conducted with 961 fire and rescue services across Europe. End-user requirements and innovation expectations of the purchasing bodies (fire and rescue services, first responders, procuring entities) were identified. In the proposed methodology, innovation is driven by the end-user, more in particular the end-user requirements and needs. It is important to perfectly understand the challenges and pain points firefighters are confronted with.

Phase 1. Market Consultations

The market consultations for the Smart@fire project are organized in September/October 2013 in France, Germany and Belgium. Here, suppliers and procurement officers can engage with each other. A bridge is created between the demand and supply side, and therefore an opportunity for a structured interaction between the market and contracting authority. The suppliers acquire knowledge about the needs and intentions of the procurers. On the other side the procurers obtain the necessary information to evaluate whether their own innovation needs can be developed by the suppliers and which technological R&D efforts remain.

Phase 2. Pre-commercial procurement: development in stages

The findings and insights gathered at the market consultations were summarized into a final report and allowed the preparation of a Joint Procurement between procurers from several EU countries. The research & development is procured in three stages: the solution exploration phase (detailed technological outline of the solution), prototyping, and a production of a first batch of Personal Protective Systems (PPS) that will be tested in the test facility of the Department School of Marseille. 

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Phase 3. Launch of a final joint EU tender

Based upon positive test results, EU fire and rescue services will purchase the developed smart suits by launching a joint EU tender.