The Strategic Sourceror

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The Power of the British Purse
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Can procurement move a nation?

The British government recently announced its intention to harness its spending power to stimulate its economy.


“We are taking the most ambitious approach yet to using public procurement as a key way to support and grow innovative businesses,” John Denham, the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, told the American Association for the Advancemnt of Science in an April 22 speech.

As the single biggest customer in the UK economy - to the tune of £150 billion annually - government can send important signals indicating future demand and boost nascent markets. As an early adopter, it can convince fledgling companies to forge ahead with new technologies.”

In a white paper, Denham’s department (DIUS) outlines its plans to build an “innovation nation” and the role that strategic purchasing will play in those plans. “The requirement for every government department to publish an innovation procurement plan will be instrumental here,” said Denham. “Developing targets and commissioning strategies that enable rather than stifle the purchase of innovative products or groundbreaking services, it will be DIUS's role to promote innovative procurement across government and facilitate the open exchange of good practice.”

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