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Putting procurement experts at the heart of security innovation

Numerous innovative security solutions never make it to market. The EU funded iProcureNet project sets out to change this by mobilising a sometimes overlooked expert group.

SECURITY

New products and technologies

© Ministère de l'Intérieur - F.PELLIER

Sovereign Clouds, Blockchains, Urban Security, Cybersecurity: novel technologies and new societal challenges are constantly transforming our security sector. But Europe is still struggling to ensure the market uptake of many innovative security solutions – despite the production of high-quality novel technologies and knowledge all over the continent. This gap is further widened by the specific character of the security market: fast-changing, driven almost entirely through national, and sometimes regional and local, legislation and standards, and often subject to constrained budgets. This is where procurers come in: They are at the steering wheel – shaping the security market and enabling it to respond to ever new challenges. iProcureNet, launched in May 2019, is a new practitioners' network based on this principle. The project aims to build an ecosystem of experts in all different areas of security procurement – procurers, prescribers, legal and innovation experts, and academics. Jean-Michel Riaux, Director of Security Procurement at the French Ministry of Interior, is "delighted" to be a part of this initiative. "iProcureNet will stimulate dialogue and ultimately even facilitate cross-border joint procurement," explains Riaux. Security procurer Marine Thevenin is coordinating the initiative on behalf of the French Ministry of Interior. She is convinced: "Procurers must become part of the innovation cycle. They need to learn how to manage their procurement processes in a way that encourages suppliers to innovate. iProcureNet will fill this gap." The result – the security technology industry and researchers will be stimulated into action and the gap between research and the market will be diminished. On the other hand, the joint procurement of security solutions will not only optimise cost. It will also help find common answers to common societal challenges and replace the current fragmented security market by a common European market. During the next five years, the project will support procurers as they move towards this joint procurement of innovative solutions. Nikolai Stoianov, Deputy Director of the Bulgarian Defence Institute in Sofia, Bulgaria, lays out the iProcureNet strategy: "Based on the joint expertise of European procurement experts, we will map and analyse the general EU procurement environment, including national investment strategies, innovation needs, security markets, and obstacles to cross-border collaboration. In the end, we will have a clear idea of security procurement practices all over the EU and reach a common understanding of innovation in this sector." The initiative will set up an online platform to allow the iProcureNet community to connect and exchange. Each Spring, iProcureNet will organise a public conference that will disseminate its key findings and provide an excellent opportunity to engage with other European security procurement stakeholders. Furthermore, iProcureNet will issue and regularly update a toolbox for the joint procurement of security solutions, designed not only for public agencies, but also for private and NGO procurers.

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