Public procurers meet at annual Big Buyers Symposium

On Wednesday 9 November more than 60 public procurers, technical experts and policy members from over 15 EU Member States met in Brussels for the First Annual Big Buyers Symposium.

Opening the plenary, Merete Clausen, Director Investment (GROW.C), DG GROW, praised the work of the project and recognised the key role that procurement plays in supporting public authorities to address the key challenges faced by humanity.

The day was an occasion to reflect on the work of the four working groups and how each has used the framework of the Big Buyers project to further goals in relation to Circular Construction, Digital Solutions in Health Care, Electric Heavy-Duty Vehicles, and Zero Emission Construction Sites. Representatives from each group shared highlights and discussed challenges in two panel discussions focused on building knowledge and capacity, and market engagement. These were excellent opportunities for the work of each group to be shared and discussed with other public buyers and industry representatives.

Together, the four groups have directly engaged with 61 companies and multiple business associations, across 16 market engagement sessions. 46 online working group meetings have been organised to compliment 4 site visits and 3 factory visits. In addition, the groups have facilitated in-depth exchange of experiences between 60 purchasing entities in the working groups, and 120 across the whole initiative, with a total procurement budget well in excess of €40bn.

To support this work, both the Circular Construction Working Group and the Zero Emission Construction Sites Working Group have developed statements to the market indicating a clear direction they want to be taken. These intend to make future demand predictable and help other public buyers across Europe to use procurement to effectively support innovation while ensuring sustainability and high quality. The statements are still open to sign up to and organisations who align with them are encouraged to contact the project and join an ever-growing number of signatories). Other significant outcomes of the cooperations have included, among others, mapping of all available heavy duty electric vehicles and their specifications and a comprehensive analysis of market gaps, developed by the Working Group on Heavy Duty Electric Vehicles.

A presentation from Ivo Locatelli, Senior Expert in DG GROW set the scene for the forthcoming larger iteration of Big Buyers, which will see 10 working groups created. With this in mind, each working group developed its own agenda for the afternoon, digging deeper into the specific subject matter and considering how they could evolve.

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