• Sala: “Pioneer region of innovation with pre-commercial procurement”

The remarks of the Vice President at the Public Procurement 4.0 conference 

When it comes to innovation and digital transformation, the Lombardy Region takes the lead.

Fabrizio Sala, Vice President of the Region and Councillor for Research, Innovation, University, Export and Internationalization, shared his remarks with the attendees of the conference “Public Procurement 4.0: Big data at the service of public spending and digital transformation of the territory” promoted by Aria SpA at Palazzo Lombardia in February 2020 to support innovation in public administration.  

A €750 million programme

From the stage, Sala outlined the efforts the governing body has made in this area. 

“The Lombardy Region,” remarked the Vice President, “aims at defining the guidelines for the future of research and innovation in order to respond to global challenges by adopting an approach that places citizens and their needs at centre of all decisions.  For the Triennial Strategic Programme, the Lombardy Region has allocated over €250 million combining its own funds, the European Regional Development  Fund (ERDF), and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). An additional €126 million are from the Italian government and the European Union and €374 million from private entities, for a total of €750 million for research and innovation.

Eight areas of action have been defined on an operative level; these are actual “ecosystems” of innovation: Nutrition, Health and Life Science, Culture, Connectivity, Smart Mobility, Social Development, Advanced Manufacturing and Sustainability. 

Innovative tools

“The programme,” explained Sala, “encompasses experimentations that are unique in Europe, such as the use of Blockchain to simplify public administration and predictive algorithms for optimizing resources.  In addition, interventions related to Smart Mobility, New Learning, Open Innovation and Technology Transfer, specifically through the “Call Hub” tender that recently selected 33 projects of excellence to be supported with €114 million. “These 33 projects are unique around the world,” he pointed out, “and involve companies, universities and a research centre. All will produce innovation in Lombardy.”  

Returning to the subject of tenders, Vice President Sala then observed that with the tool of pre-commercial public procurement the Lombardy Region has broken ground at a national level and has stood out in recent years in Europe as well.  “In 2018, with POR FESR 2014-2020 resources, “ he highlighted, “several important pre-commercial public procurement tenders in the health sector were activated.” 

One of the first tenders called by Arca/Aria SpA regarded the development of a device for robot-assisted upper limb rehabilitation in patients with disabilities stemming from cerebrovascular pathologies. It was awarded to three business operators who started development and designed the prototype of the innovative solution. A second tender, aimed at developing a diagnostic device to prevent myocardial infarction, was called by the ASST of Pavia and awarded in its first phase (it is a multi-phase procedure) to two operators.” 

Over the next few months, another tender proposed by the “Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori” will get under way, this time for the technological development of imaging in surgical assistance and support systems.  

A glance at the future 

The conference was an opportunity for a dialogue – also between the public and private sectors – on the subject of procurement savings through centralised e-tendering processes, and on a stronger commitment by the public sector to identify a strategic partner in the private sector to support technological innovation projects that lead to a better quality of life of citizens. 

Within this context is the strategic design of a business model to make the Lombardy Region a model both nationally and in Europe for its capacity for vision and growth through the optimal use of public resources.
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