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Effects of public procurement of R&D on the innovation process: Evidence from the UK Small Business Research Initiative

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>16/07/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Public Procurement
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date16/07/20
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

PurposeThe study aims to investigate how pre-commercial procurement (PCP) influences the activities, capabilities and behaviours of actors participating in the innovation process. Unlike much of PCP research underpinned by a market failure theoretical framework that evaluates the additionality of innovation inputs and outputs, this paper focusses on the role and capacity of PCP in addressing systemic failures impeding the process of innovation.
Design/methodology/approachPCP effects on the innovation process were studied through a qualitative study of the UK small business research initiative (SBRI) programme. Data collection comprised 33 semi-structured interviews with key informants within 30 organisations and analysis of 80-plus secondary data sources. Interviewees included executives of technology-based small businesses, managers within public buying organisations and innovation policymakers and experts.
FindingsThe UK SBRI improves connectivity and instigates research and development (R&D) related interactions and cooperation. Through securing government R&D contracts, small firms access relevant innovation ecosystems, build up their knowledge and capabilities and explore possible routes to market. Public organisations use the SBRI to connect to innovative small firms and access their sets of expertise and novel ideas. They also learn to appreciate the strategic role of procurement. Nonetheless, SBRI-funded small business face commercialisation and innovation adoption challenges because of institutional constraints pertaining to rules, regulations and public-sector norms of conduct.
Research limitations/implicationsThe study contributes to existing PCP research by demonstrating innovation process-related effects of PCP policies. It also complements literature on small business-friendly public procurement measures by highlighting the ways through which PCP, rather than commercial procurement procedures, can support the development of small businesses other than just facilitating their access to government (R&D) contracts.Social implicationsThe study identifies several challenge areas that policymakers should address to improve the implementation of the UK SBRI programme.
Originality/valueThe study demonstrates the effects of PCP on the activities, capabilities and behaviours of small businesses and public buying organisations involved in the innovation process.

Bibliographic note

This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.