The 2013/04/30 at 08:24
On Thursday 11 April, the SAE (State Purchases Service) organised, at the Ministry of the Economy in Bercy, Paris, a conference on “Innovative Purchases” aimed at buyers in public services. Meeting the State’s commitment to the “National Pact for Growth, Competitiveness and Employment” (2 % of purchases to be made from innovative enterprises), this conference aimed to encourage public-service decision-makers to invest in innovative French enterprises and to purchase their solutions.
In his opening speech, Arnaud Montebourg, the French Minister for Productive Recovery, encouraged the two hundred public purchasers present to take risks. “You’re not obliged to always buy the same light bulbs! You can be bold with 2 % of your orders! There is a share of risk in innovation, but it is undertaken by the entrepreneur. I’d like us to take up our share of risk in solidarity with those who innovate. Take risks in your orders, it’s your responsibility.”
The Minister also retraced the impact of public purchases on the French economic fabric, and the necessity to privilege products “made in France”, despite European regulations. “We are a strainer in disloyal globalisation. In the United States of America, percentages (editorial note: of public purchases) are weaker as the public field is smaller. But it is 100 % closed! There is the ‘Buy American Act’. I’m sorry, but apply the rules of reciprocity. Observe the behaviour of enterprises, their nationalities, where they produce, where they are located. If you’re hassled, I’ll cover you. I’ll plead your cause in Brussels!”
Before a public won over by his argument, and taking out his spearhead of “made in France” once again, Arnaud Montebourg also highlighted the importance that public orders can represent in the life of a small company just starting out. This position was repeated by Fleur Pelerin in her speech in the afternoon. “Public orders should serve SMEs and allow them to develop. They can be an extremely effective lever for stimulating enterprises and by the same bat, innovation, as has been the case for the digital economy ecosystem that, in Israel for example, has been greatly pulled upwards by the markets of the Ministry of Defence.”
The commitments made by the two Ministers concerned by these new directives were promoted on this day, with roundtables taking place to steer buyers in their future procedures.
In this way, purchasing managers from major administrative bodies or public structures discussed their partnerships with small innovative SMEs in their domains. Amongst them, Michel Leroy of Météo France recounted how a small innovative enterprise, MODEM, managed, little by little, to overtake the entire market of weather sensors. Also present to share their experiences were young company heads who, through their determination, and thanks to the audacity of certain administrative bodies, have succeeded in becoming the suppliers of public services despite their small size.
Jean-Philippe Mangeot, founder of Trydéa, who has developed a 3D software solution that can operate even on old computers, was selected by the Ministry for Internal Affairs to develop an application to provide training in the handling of firearms, aimed at the gendarmerie and national police.
Yoram Moyal, founder of Buzcard, has developed a business card that can be updated thanks to a QR code and an online profile service. Seduced by the renewable aspect of the cards and the “sustainable” side of this offer, the DGCIS (Direction Générale de la Compétitivité pour l'Industrie et les Services or the Directorate for Competitiveness in Industry and Services) ordered cards for its employees. A few days later, the Ministry for Productive Recovery decided to follow suit. So much to say that administration is not always inert when faced with good ideas.
All through the day, speed-dating-type meetings were organised between the public buyers present and 80 innovative SMEs. In addition, themed workshops on innovative textiles, transport, energy, collaborative tools and relations with users, allowed 25 SMEs to present their innovations to public buyers liable to use their solutions.
Finally, so that all these worthy intentions don’t remain just intentions, the “newly appointed” Mediator for Public Markets, Jean-Louis Blachier, announced that every administrative body will need to prepare an action plan explaining how it intends to reach the objective of 2 % investment in innovation, and its priorities in this area.
No small stakes as public purchases represented 40 billion euros in 2012 in State spending, and 20 billion euros in the budgets of French territorial authorities.