Route 3 - Develop Strategy - Procurement Route - Innovation Partnership

Innovation Partnership must only be used where there is a need for the development of an innovative product or service and the subsequent purchase of these cannot be met by solutions already available on the market. The use of this procedure must be justified.

The Innovation Partnership Procedure aims to solve the problem of organisations who, after awarding a research and development contract without competition, may have been unable to purchase the product directly from the developer without further competition.

The benefits of this procedure are:

  • Allowing the development of new types of goods and services;
  • Market stimulation through the appointment of one or several partners competing to conduct separate research and development activities funded through the contract;
  • Allowing the choice of the most suitable partners for development contracts;
  • Allowing the purchase of the innovative supplies and/or services through the Innovation Partnership.

You should not use Innovation Partnership in a way that prevents, restricts or distorts competition. You may limit the number of candidates meeting the selection criteria that you invite to participate in the procedure if you indicate this possibility in the contract notice but you should invite at least three (if three or more meet selection criteria) in order to ensure genuine competition. It should be noted that you may also establish an innovation partnership with one or several partners conducting separate research and development activities.

[For Care and Support Services only: For many care and support services contract, an organisation may use the procurement procedures, tools and techniques of its choosing. You should follow a procurement procedure, as a matter of best practice, that is proportionate to the value of the contract and to take account of some fundamental considerations (for example, the TFEU fundamental principles where relevant and fair work practices).

When doing so, you may choose to adapt or streamline the Innovation Partnership Procedure described in the Public Contract (Scotland) Regulations 2015. If you do so, you are not obliged to follow the detailed procedural requirements set out in those Regulations. You should therefore not refer to the Regulations in the tender documentation issued to participants, as this may create an expectation that the detailed procedural requirements will be followed. In all cases, you should ensure that the procurement process is described accurately and clearly, and then adhered to.]

As with all aspects of the Procurement Journey, the activities at this stage must be carried out in a carefully managed manner that supports the Principles of Procurement. As a minimum the processes must be carried out in a transparent way that ensures there is no distortion of the market place, the outcome cannot be a procurement that unduly favours or disadvantages a particular supplier and it is the responsibility of the Organisation to make sure that these requirements are met.

It is also important to note that whilst an innovative solution is the objective, the outcome must meet the minimum requirements as set out in the tender documents and be within the agreed performance levels and maximum costs. You must set out in the Procurement Documents the subject matter of the procurement by providing a description of your need, the minimum requirements, the award criteria and the applicable intellectual property rights arrangements. The information you provide must be sufficiently precise to enable bidders to identify the nature and scope of the required solution and decide whether to request to participate in the procedure. However, you have to be careful not to restrict the innovative proposals with the requirements.

You must negotiate with bidders  the initial and all subsequent tenders submitted, except for the final tender, to improve its content.  Minimum requirements and the award criteria must not be negotiated.


Organisations must ensure the equal treatment of all parties involved. Part of this requires that confidentiality must be maintained to prevent any distortion of competition. Your Organisation must not reveal confidential information communicated by a party to another party without their express agreement and this permission may only be given with reference to the intended communication of specific information. You should also add a requirement to ensure your organisation’s confidential information is protected throughout the procurement process.


As for Competitive Dialogue the only set timescale is that the deadline for requests to participate must be a minimum of 30 days after the Contract Notice is sent for publication.  When fixing other time limits the Organisation must take account of the complexity of the contract and the time required for drawing up tenders.

In this case the organisation must provide sufficiently precise information to enable the bidders to identify the nature and scope of the requirement and decide whether to express an interest  to participate.

You must permit any economic operator to submit a request to participate within the timescales. The evaluation of the selection stage information may be more challenging than other procedures. The Organisation must, in particular, apply criteria concerning the bidder’s capacity in the field of research and development and of developing and implementing innovative solutions. Only those invited by you may participate in the procedure and submit research and innovation projects aimed at meeting your needs. 

The innovation partnership must be structured in successive phases to reflect the research and development stages involved, and set intermediate targets to be attained by the partners and provide for payment of the remuneration in appropriate instalments. You must ensure that the structure of the partnership and the duration and value of the different phases reflect the degree of innovation of the proposed solution and the sequence of the research and innovation activities.  

After each phase, you have the option to terminate the partnership or reduce the number of partners by terminating individual contracts by applying the award criteria, provided that you have indicated such possibilities in the Procurement Documents.

The contracts must be awarded on the sole basis of the best price-quality ratio.














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