POINT (-2.70309 53.763201)
  • Procure


    Kick-off meeting in June (Lublin). Transnational meetings in September (Satu Mare and Nagykallo) and December (Albacete).
    Transnational meetings in March (Koprivnica), June (Candelaria), September (Koszalin), November (Prague).
    Final event in March (Bologna).

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus


    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela


    Municipality of Udine (Italy)


    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email:

    Keep following our social media channels as we develop Tech Revolution 2.0 as part of the second wave of URBACT ||| Programme. 

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin:




    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora



    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801


    City of Rome

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

    Via Palazzo di Città, 1 - 10121 Turin (Italy)



    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

    Edifício Municipal, Campo Grande nº25, 6ºE | 1749 -099 Lisboa



    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council


    Municipality of Piraeus


    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia


    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029



    Riga NGO House


    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    City of Rotterdam
    Coolsingel 40, 3011 AD Rotterdam

    City Council Bielefeld
    Bürger Service Center
    Phone +49 521 510


    City of Eindhoven
    Stadhuisplein 1, 5611 EM Eindhoven

    City of Loulé
    Praça da República, 8104-001 Loulé
    Phone +351 289 400 600


    City of Igualada
    Plaça de l'Ajuntament, 1, 08700 Igualada, Barcelona


    City of Ghent
    Stad Gent
    Botermarkt 1
    9000 Gent

    City of Genoa
    Via di Francia, 1 - XI floor. 16149 Genova


    City of San Donà di Piave Piazza Indipendenza, 13 – 30027


    City of Naples
    Urban Planning Department 
    Phone +39 081 7958932 - 34 - 17 


    The Barnsley Digital Media  County Way, Barnsley, S70 2JW
    Phone +44 01226 720700 


    Preston City Council
    Town Hall, Preston, PR1 2RL

    The goal of this Action Planning network was to explore how to harness the spending power through procurement of public and anchor institutions in the partner cities to bring about economic, social and environmental benefits for businesses and people which in turn will have a positive impact on the city and its local economy. The topics to be explored include: the regulations and law at both European and national level, and what cities are able to do around innovative procurement; how to analyse procurement spend and develop a procurement strategy; the use of social criteria and environmental criteria in procurement; and how to raise awareness of procurement amongst local businesses and SMEs.

    Driving innovation in public procurement
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  • Nine solutions for more vibrant, productive cities

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    These local actions for community participation and productivity are inspiring cities across the EU. Could they work in yours too?


    The New Leipzig Charter highlights three forms of the transformative city which can be harnessed in Europe to enhance people’s quality of life: the Just City, the Green City and the Productive City.

    URBACT’s latest publication is packed with sustainable solutions to address these three dimensions – all tried, tested and transferred between EU cities, with adaptations for each local context.

    To give a taste of the stories told in ‘Good Practice Transfer: Why not in my City?’, here are nine examples of local actions for Productive Cities. We hope towns and cities of all sizes will be inspired to ‘Understand, Adapt and Re-use’ participative solutions like this – from education and entrepreneurship to efficient governance and better use of urban spaces – improving everyday life for residents, and supporting a just transition to a green economy.


    1. Give citizens a card for local services

    To simplify everyday life in Aveiro (PT), the municipality got together with stakeholders to launch a card that will give citizens easy access to public services such as the library, museum, buses and shared bikes, as well as improved online and front desk support. A first step was to issue a student card to access school services across the city, from stationery and meals, to school trips. The idea is to promote a smarter, more open, resilient and inclusive society. Aveiro and four other URBACT partner cities are introducing their local versions of ‘CARD4ALL’ based on good practice from Gijón, a Spanish city that has provided citizen cards for nearly 20 years.


    2. Put residents’ wellbeing at the heart of urban regeneration

    In a project to bring an old playing field back into use, Birmingham (UK) gave local people the power to drive improvements themselves, thanks to a Community Economic Development Planning model, mirroring successful approaches already used in Łódź (PL). Building on this positive start, residents went on to co-produce an alternative Community-Led Master Plan for the wider area — where all council plans had previously been opposed. Council-appointed community ‘ambassadors’ now work with local residents, businesses, service providers and volunteers with a direct stake in the area’s economic health. And the approach is being rolled out across other areas of the city. Birmingham is one of six cities to learn from Łódź’ collaborative model as part of the URBAN REGENERATION MIX network.


    3. Create a digital business hub with a local twist 

    The Greek city of Piraeus founded a new ‘Blue Lab’ near its harbour — the first Blue Economy Innovation Centre in Greece. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology, Blue Lab welcomes students and entrepreneurs, providing business mentoring, tech and entrepreneurship training. It has boosted cooperation with businesses and schools, and sparked an array of prototype technology solutions. Piraeus’ further plans now include a new larger co-working space, training facilities to upskill the workforce, and investment in more advanced technologies. Piraeus is one of six URBACT Tech Revolution network partner cities to set up their own start-up support schemes based on the Digital Media Centre in Barnsley (UK), an URBACT-listed Good Practice that has become a successful hub for local creative and digital business.


    4. Build local partnerships around education

    By involving parents, school staff, local clubs and council departments in ‘Educational Innovation Networks’ (EIN), the city of Halmstad (SE) is boosting local connections and sparking improvements in education. Thanks to the URBACT ON BOARD network, Halmstad learnt from Viladecans (ES) who originally formed an EIN to improve education as part of a drive to reverse rising unemployment and declining growth. Halmstad adopted new ideas, including ‘Positive Mindset and Emotions’ for better learning and methods for improving pupil participation. Communication within the municipality also improved thanks to cross-departmental clusters focusing on: Care and Support; Education and Learning; Growth and Attractiveness; and Infrastructure.


    5. Open a ‘living room’ for local clubs and residents

    Idrija (SI) transformed an empty shop into a ‘living room’ for the town, with free activities run by, and for, local associations and inhabitants. City administrators, social services and economic departments, local clubs and active citizens, are all involved in the project, as well as the regional development agency, library and retirement home. As a result, the site has become a meeting place open to all, with events focusing on topics as diverse as housing refurbishment, chess, and knitting. It also hosts a municipality-supported free transport service for elderly people and a book corner run by the local library. Idrija’s solution was modelled on the ‘Stellwerk’ NGO platform launched in Altena (DE) as a solution to help manage the town’s long-term decline.


    6. Turn unused buildings into homes

    Chemnitz’s (DE) ‘Housing Agency for Shrinking Cities’ helps transform empty buildings into valuable housing while reducing speculation, channeling grant money, and cutting future costs for both the owners of decaying buildings and the municipality. Initiated and funded by the city authorities, the project is carried out in the public interest by a long-standing private partner. This model inspired Vilafranca del Penedès (ES), partner in the URBACT ALT/BAU network, to review its housing policies and look for private partners with the technical capacity and financial solvency to help the city recover abandoned housing units. As a result, Vilafranca has signed an agreement with a social foundation whose main objective is to identify, obtain and rehabilitate low-priced rental housing in collaboration with job agencies.


    7. Launch a blue entrepreneurship competition (for cities near water!) 

    The port city of Mataró (ES) is boosting local entrepreneurship and jobs in the maritime economy – inspired by a BlueGrowth initiative in Piraeus (EL). Mataró encouraged diverse public and private stakeholders to get involved, including the City Promotion team, regional ‘Barcelona Nautic Cluster’, local port authority, and a technology park that hosts the University and a business incubator. The resulting Mataró Blue Growth Entrepreneurship competition provides cash prizes, mentoring and access to a business accelerator programme. So far winning projects include a boat repair franchise, a boat propulsion system, and an app linking up superyachts with relevant services.


    8. Help city employees become innovators

    When Turin (IT) teamed up with private sponsors to launch a competition inviting 10 000 municipal staff to submit innovative ideas for improving the administration's performance, winning proposals included solutions for improving community participation, smart procurement, and lighting in public buildings. This inspired Rotterdam (NL) and five other cities in the URBACT Innovato-R network to draw on Turin’s experience to boost innovation and process improvement in their own cities. As a result, Rotterdam took a fresh approach with its existing innovation network of over 1 800 civil servants and 500 external stakeholders, strengthening links with businesses and academics, introducing new online ‘inspiration sessions’, and co-designing a new innovation platform.


    9. Harness the power of public spending 

    Koszalin (PL) analysed the city’s procurement spending and is using the resulting evidence to shape public procurement practices in order to benefit the local economy, while taking into account social and environmental factors. To do so, they used a spend analysis tool that was originally developed by Preston (UK) and transferred to six EU cities via the URBACT Making Spend Matter network. Koszalin also started working more closely with key ‘anchor institutions’ in the city, such as the hospital and university, exploring how much they spend, and where that money goes geographically. Meanwhile, they improved support for local SME participation in public procurement.


    Find out more about these and many more sustainable city solutions – in the new URBACT publication ‘Good Practice Transfer: Why not in my City?’.

    Visit the Good Practice database for more inspiration.


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  • The German Presidency conference ‘Europe’s Cities Fit For Future’

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    Subjective notes by URBACT Expert Iván Tosics on this input event for the New Leipzig Charter.


    Leipzig Charter

    The German Presidency conference on cities and on the New Leipzig Charter (NLC) had to be organised online. The digital webinar sessions were spread across three weeks in September 2020, starting with a half-day discussion about challenges and possible approaches, continuing with a full day on innovative city approaches in economic, environmental and social fields, and finishing with a half-day political discussion about implementation.


    All the links to the recordings of the five sessions and all presentations and supporting documents are available on the official event website.


    Overview of the event and key topics


    This was a large conference: over 500 visitors followed the conference on YouTube on the first day (the popularity of the thematic sessions was lower, at close to 100 participants). My personal interest to follow the 13.5 hours of conference discussions was based on my curiosity to get answers on the following questions. What is the novelty of the NLC? How did the main messages change as a consequence of the pandemic? To what extent can it help cities to achieve a greater role in EU policies? Besides, I was also interested in the selected innovative city approaches.


    The first two questions were quickly addressed at the beginning of the conference. According to Tilman Buchholz (Deputy Head of Unit, German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community) one of the unique selling points of the NLC is the idea of urban policy for the common good, addressing the fact that resources are not infinite. Participation and co-creation became stronger and there is a focus on implementation – a whole chapter deals with empowerment of cities.


    Silke Weidner (Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus – Senftenberg) addressed the new, and for many people controversial, topic of digitalisation, which has been given a large weight and put as a cross-sectoral dimension to the NLC, additional to the three main pillars: just, economic, green.


    The original ideas of the NLC have been modified in the light of COVID-19: besides densification and inner cities, also other issues have to get higher importance. However, there is no suggestion in the document that social distancing should become the major principle: it is still integrated development that is the focus and digital tools can help to avoid gentrification and urban sprawl.


    As Jonas Scholze (Managing Director of the German Association for Housing, Urban and Spatial Development) explained in a recent interview with URBACT: “Covid-19 gives a whole new meaning to the concept of city resilience … it is closely linked to the triangle of sustainability: communities with a functioning economy, environmentally and climate-friendly ‘green’ solutions and a socially just urban society are demonstrably more robust to crises. Other indicators of ‘strong’ cities are the provision of services of general interest in the social, educational and health sectors as well as digital infrastructures and services.”


    A dynamic opening half day


    The introductory half day of the conference brought a surprisingly dynamic three hours to the listeners. The tone was set by the disruptive keynote of Niklas Maak (book author and writer for the F.A.Z. feuilleton), who painted a radically different future, which will need different solutions. In his view the Coronavirus has highlighted the contradictions and inequalities of urban development and in this light we have to completely rethink how we live in cities.


    There is a threat that cities will lose shops, offices, and even cinemas. Although smart city planners have ideas how to reform the cities, in Maak’s opinion other ideas are needed. Cities should be rebuilt on the ruins of the previous uses: millions of square meters become vacant, giving opportunity to bring back affordable housing, small shops, new functions into the heart of the city, functions which were kicked out when plot prices were enormously high.


    New public living rooms might be developed like museums, new, more inclusive ways of education can be developed. Europe has chances to develop a third way (based on innovative, new understanding of cities), opposite to the market and state-dominated systems. Digitalisation might make middle and smaller towns attractive again, instead of forcing rural residents into small and expensive flats in large cities.


    In order to achieve radical changes, politicians have to take back power - market reactions cannot address these challenges. Public control of land has to dominate, pushing back private interests and unlimited speculation. In the digital age, the collective ownership of data (instead of expropriation of data by tech giants or authoritarian states) is of crucial importance. Digitalisation will ensure more return on economic activities and this money should be distributed in a more just way, compensating those people who still have to work in physical or service jobs.


    The inequality issue was also addressed by Anna Geppert (University Paris-Sorbonne). People not able to home work, would not only need compensation, but a decent life based on increased work-related wages – otherwise large protest will change the present status quo. She supported the NLC in giving greater importance to the functional urban areas and regional policies, thus bringing the problems of neighbourhoods into the right spatial scale.


    Wolfgang Teubner (Regional Director of the European Secretariat of ICLEI) talked about the choices and conflicts in the different dimensions of transformation, such as technological aspects, socio-economic challenges, and spatial restructuring. He suggested decarbonising energy systems, changing mobility systems (with lower number of cars); and addressing the big divides in the job market with strong social compensation systems (people in precarious jobs are preparing and delivering parcels to people sitting at home in home office). He challenged the view of Maak regarding territorial restructuring: to move away from large cities would either lead to sprawl or to destroying the original character of the small and medium cities by densification.


    Innovative city approaches


    Three consecutive workshops on innovative city approaches were moderated by URBACT experts, highlighting the cases of 3x4 cities in the economic, environmental and social fields, through presentations, panel discussions and Q&A sessions. (For more direct experiences of hundreds of cities inputting into the New Leipzig Charter, see the content and outcomes of the URBACT City Labs.)


    The Productive City workshop included:


    • the Urban Innovative Action (UIA) BRIDGE project from Rotterdam South (NL): linking the youth of a deprived urban area with local growth sectors through innovation within the city administration and co-creation with society.
    • the URBACT good practice of Preston (UK), recognising the power of public procurement in the local economy. Aiming to locate more spending in and around Preston, contracts are divided into smaller lots which are more attractive for local entrepreneurs – and local anchor institutions are approached to expand the procurement basis.
    • Mouans-Sartoux (FR) has an interesting story of a tiny city fighting the large international food industry. Their URBACT good practice, ‘food sovereignty’ started with school canteens, supplied with affordable, locally sourced organic food. The implications became significant, in terms of governance, planning and the local economy, preferring close-by producers and reducing food waste.
    • The UIA funded Aveiro (PT) Steam City project aimed to change the post-industrial (ceramics) city into one of Portugal’s first digital hubs, through innovative Tech Labs in schools, providing talent for the city’s growing tech industry base and encouraging the city’s best qualified citizens to stay in the area and boost the local economy.

    The Green City workshop focused on the following innovative city cases:


    • In Umeå (SE), a unique project aimed at halving the use of energy in a housing estate through: photovoltaic cells on the roofs; 137 new sustainable apartments with high energy efficiency; 405 renovated apartments; nearly fossil fuel-free district heating; and individual metering. With the help of the University, options were evaluated on how renovation could be completed as sustainably as possible while not increasing the rents more than 10 percent.
    • Ghent (BE) introduced a large car-free city centre, carefully selecting and communicating the precise narrative: not against all cars users but against those who use the city centre without having a destination there. Six sectors were designed and directly crossing from one to another was prohibited. A citizen council of 150 citizens was formed which judged the options and developed compromise solutions.
    • Wroclaw (PL) made innovative investments towards climate change adaptation. In a poor inner city area, where most buildings are privatised, but courtyard areas remained in municipality ownership, efforts were taken to green the courtyards with nature-based solutions. The interventions were planned together with the residents and, as a result, 90% of rainwater is kept within the area.
    • Stuttgart (DE) has an innovative planning and co-funding scheme for the development of green infrastructure in the Stuttgart Metropolitan Region. Some 160+ projects have been implemented throughout the region, covering all aspects of green infrastructure. Through a 1.5 million EUR regional fund, municipalities can get 50% co-financing for development of open spaces, allocated competitively.

    The Just City workshop introduced the following innovative city examples:


    • In Brussels (BE), CALICO is an intergenerational and intercultural co-housing project to preserve some neighbourhoods from gentrification through a partnership of eight organisations. Based on land owned by the Community Land Trust of Brussels, the land is safe from speculation, provides housing for lower-income families, includes Housing First units for homeless people, housing units for poor and single women, a community-oriented birth and end-of-life facility, and a community space open to local neighbourhood initiatives.
    • Athens (EL) launched the SynAthina platform to bring together the large number of diverse bottom-up initiatives. Over 450 community groups participate, and from their examples urban innovation prototypes are created, such as new ways of cleaning streets and empowering refugees (Co-Athens) – a contemporary art project in a physical space which is mostly inhabited by migrants.
    • In Barcelona (ES), Fundació Hàbitat3 manages 520 properties that provide adequate housing for 1 400 people at risk of housing exclusion. Fundació is acquiring and renovating empty homes together with local social enterprises which train and employ socially excluded people. Different types of subsidies by city councils are combined: private people lease to them the empty flats slightly below market price, while municipalities give allowances to people to pay the lower rent.
    • In Gdańsk (PL), many participatory tools are used to involve citizens in decision-making and co-creation processes. Citizens’ Assemblies are organised, Neighbourhood Houses are established, five million EUR budget is devoted to participatory budgeting and Thematic Councils are set up to monitor the implementation. The city acts as a broker on the basis of a new way of governance, a new profile of civil servants and improved relationships between public city administration and different city players.

    Closing sessions of the conference


    The closing half day of the conference dealt with implementation issues. Susanne Lottermoser (German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community) mentioned the Urban Agenda of the EU as a potential vehicle for the implementation of the NLC. There are, however, changes needed, such as a secretariat to monitor and assess partnerships and more legal expertise for partnerships to work on better regulation and financing. The dissemination of outputs has to be improved by dissemination hubs in all Member States (national contact points).


    Wenke Christoph (Permanent Secretary for Housing, City of Berlin) argued for giving higher political importance to the Urban Agenda. In this spirit, the European Recovery Initiative should involve cities, not to repeat the mistake of the European Semester in which cities are not involved directly.


    Normunds Popens (Deputy Director-General for Regional and Urban Policy at the EU Commission) was convinced that the urban dimension should get stronger through Functional Urban Areas and urban-rural links. In the new EU programming period, cities will be supported by thematic calls. For the first time ever there will also be a territorial priority objective: if PO5 is part of the national strategy, direct work with urban authorities will be possible. However, he could not give any positive answer on how local municipalities could manage to be involved in the process of national recovery planning.


    In the final political debate, the main message that was formulated was that a true translation of the principles to the ground is needed, which is up to politicians at all levels. The NLC should become a leading document for the next decade – allowing for local and regional politicians to be able to go to their national politicians and ask them why they do not implement these policies.


    My conclusions

    This conference nicely ‘unpacked’ the main principles of the New Leipzig Charter, while interesting and thought-provoking keynotes showed how important these principles are for the future. The 12 city cases shown during the three thematic workshops proved the usefulness of good practices, if applied in a correct way.


    While the Urban Innovative Action (UIA) programme helps pre-selected innovative ideas to develop fully, the URBACT Transfer Networks help to spread and adopt good ideas in a progressive way. All these principles and practices are needed to address the mounting urban challenges of the future.


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  • URBACT and public procurement: a wealth of knowledge to share

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    Unlock the potential of public procurement in your city, with URBACT expert Matthew Baqueriza-Jackson.



    Public procurement continues to grow in importance across Europe and will be integral to our responses to Covid-19 and the continuing economic, social and environmental challenges that cities face. In this article, I’ll tell you how URBACT has been working to influence this agenda and ensure it remains a core component of Integrated Urban Development long into the future. There is great potential here that needs to be unlocked!




    Bringing public procurement into the light


    Over the course of the last five years, and instigated by the experience, knowledge, and desire of the City of Preston, URBACT has undertaken a number of activities around the topic of public procurement. I, Matthew Baqueriza-Jackson, as Lead Expert, Ad-Hoc Expert, URBACT representative and trainer have been lucky enough to help shape and animate that activity utilising my knowledge and expertise. 


    Collectively, we have turned public procurement, as a theme, from something that has always been shrouded in bureaucracy and challenges, to something which is integral to ‘integrated urban development’ and exciting. By this we mean, public procurement can be used as one of the levers which city authorities have at their disposal to address economic, social, and environmental challenges; and as a means of bringing together different stakeholders to improve outcomes.


    The work around public procurement undertaken by Preston, URBACT and its participating cities and networks - as described below - has culminated in the production of the URBACT ‘online course on strategic procurement’, which will be launched in March 2021. The course - which involves 7 modules and accompanying city case studies from URBACT - utilises this depth of experience and expertise to provide a step-by-step approach as to how cities can be more strategic in public procurement. Interested? Save your spot by registering online.



    So, what have we collectively done around public procurement?


    URBACT’s work around public procurement commenced in 2015, with the launch of the Procure Action Planning Network. Led by the City of Preston and involving ten other cities, this network started the journey to change the perception and role of public procurement. Our core finding from three years of action planning activity was that public procurement has to be viewed as a ‘cycle’. To be able to embed social and environmental outcomes into public procurement, there has to be:


    • political buy-in and a willingness to change public procurement cultures;
    • an understanding of where existing municipality procurement spend goes and how much is spent;
    • an overarching procurement strategy or approach - which as well as legislative requirements, details the economic, social and environmental outcomes a municipality wants to achieve through procurement;
    • a reflection upon the relevance of those wider outcomes during the design of goods, services or works (commissioning);
    • questions asked around these wider outcomes during tendering, and evaluation of responses during decision-making and selection of the winning supplier;
    • monitoring of the extent to which those wider outcomes are achieved during the delivery of the good, service, or work.   

    Feeding into the EU Urban Agenda


    In 2017, the City of Preston and I (as an URBACT representative) were asked to participate in and observe the activities of the EU Urban Agenda Partnership on Innovative and Responsible Public Procurement. The Partnership, through engagement with the European Commission, other European programmes and institutions, and regions and cities, sought to further advance the use of public procurement as a means to delivering key economic, social and environmental outcomes.


    In practice, URBACT’s role has been far from simple ‘observation’ – indeed, with the City of Preston, we have led the development of the Partnership’s Measuring Spend and Wider Impact Action and have contributed towards the Building Strategy Action.

    Supporting city transfer of good procurement practice


    Also in 2017, the City of Preston was awarded URBACT Good Practice status for its work around ‘spend analysis’ and how it can be used to progress procurement processes and practices. In 2018, the Making Spend Matter Transfer Network started the journey of transferring this Good Practice to six other cities.


    The Network is due to complete its activities in June 2021, with the cities working on understanding, adapting, and re-using the Good Practice in their own contexts, and the City of Preston importantly improving it. The Network will launch its final output - a Toolkit on how cities can be more strategic in public procurement, at a conference in March 2021.


    Since 2019, URBACT has also started to integrate public procurement learning into other network activities. As part of the evolution of the Implementation Networks, URBACT produced a Guide about the implementation challenges of public procurement and how they can be overcome, with case studies detailed throughout.



    The Playful Paradigm and Urban Regeneration Mix Transfer Networks are also embedding exchange and learning activities around public procurement into their networks, for which I have been providing ad-hoc expertise. Playful Paradigm has produced the ‘Playful Paradigm Procurement Guide’, which talks through the stages cities need to go through to purchase goods, services, and works associated with play and games. Urban Regeneration Mix are exploring how public procurement can be used to deliver regeneration outcomes, with this a key topic of conversation at their upcoming Exchange and Learning Seminar.

    Spreading procurement knowledge beyond URBACT!


    In 2018, URBACT, started the process of formulating an online course, using this wealth of knowledge, experience, expertise and outcomes. During the 2018 URBACT City Festival in Lisbon, I led  a Lab Session entitled ‘Buying a Better Future’. The session reflected on the core findings of the Procure Network, and how the steps of the procurement cycle could be translated into real procurement exercises.


    This has developed into what has become the URBACT ‘Online Course on Strategic Public Procurement’ to be launched in March 2021 – don’t forget to register now!


    What is more, this course will not be the end of the journey. In fact, it is just the start of embedding our learning from our networks and involvement in the EU Urban Agenda Partnership to a bigger and wider audience. Please join us to see what you can learn and use for the benefit of your city!


    Matthew Baqueriza-Jackson is the Lead Expert of Making Spend Matter. He has represented URBACT on the EU Urban Agenda Partnership on Innovative and Responsible Public Procurement and is the Co-Trainer for the ‘URBACT Online Course on Strategic Public Procurement’.


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  • Making Spend Matter


    April 2018 – September 2018 | Phase 1: Transfer Network development
    4 December 2018 | Start of Phase 2
    January 2019 – March 2019 | Transfer Planning Period: development of the Good Practice transfer, tools and training on spend analysis methodology
    April 2019 – December 2020 | Transfer Learning Period: transfer of the Good Practice in partner cities, bilateral activities on the themes of Advanced Spend Analysis, SME Engagement, Social and Environmental criteria in Public Procurement.
    January 2021 – May 2021 | Transfer Sharing Period: National/Regional Good Practice Transfer Events
    March 2021 | Final Network Event
    4 June 2021 | Project End Date

    Making Spend Matter Transfer network explores how to use spend analysis as an evidence tool to enhance the impact of procurement by public / anchor institutions in order to bring additional economic, social and environmental benefits to the local economy and its citizens. This will be achieved by transferring the Good Practice developed by Preston in this area.

    Changing Procurement - Changing Cities
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  • Making Spend Matter

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    "Instead of looking to attract wealth through inward investment, we started to think about the wealth we already had at our disposal and building and harnessing that wealth for the benefit of our communities", Councillor Brown, Preston (UK)

    Matthew Baqueriza-Jackson, Network Expert for Making Spend Matter talks to key figures in Preston City Council to find out how they are changing the way procurement works in Lancashire.    

    Local Economic Development

    The Making Spend Matter Transfer Network started in April 2018. Focused on the theme of procurement, Making Spend Matter is seeking to transfer a methodology through which cities can understand the impact of their procurement spending and subsequently influence the way in which procurement decisions are made.

    Preston has been undertaking ‘spend analysis’ since 2013 as part of a wider project called Community Wealth Building. To find out more about the Good Practice, the methodology, and the expectations for Making Spend Matter, I spoke to three key people at Preston City Council.

    • Councillor Matthew Brown: the Leader of Preston City Council and the visionary behind the Community Wealth Building Project;
    • Andrew Ridehalgh: the Procurement Manager of Preston City Council who manages the policy, strategy and practice associated with the process of procurement;
    • Tamar Reay: the Lead Partner Coordinator for Making Spend Matter and an Economic Regeneration Officer at Preston City Council.

    What is procurement and why is it important?

    The conversation started with a question around what procurement is and why it is important. Andrew described procurement as being like shopping and the purchases we make everyday as consumers: “public procurement is the process we use in local government to buy goods, services and works. Much like consumers, we make decisions on the basis of price, quality, individual values, and brand. However, the process is much more complex – we are governed by legislation and the process is often seen as very bureaucratic, technical and dull.”

    Andrew stated that Preston City Council had begun to think differently about procurement in 2011, as part of a much wider project designed to develop a new approach to economic development: “we wanted to remove some of the bureaucracy associated with procurement and make it easier for small businesses to bid for opportunities. We also wanted our procurement spend to bring maximum benefit for our local economy and our residents; in effect addressing social and environmental challenges.”

    The timing of the work was important from both a global and local perspective. As Councillor Brown explained, Preston had been badly affected by the financial crisis of the late 2000s and the approach to economic regeneration which the United Kingdom had utilised over the last forty years: “as part of our inward investment approach, we were expecting a big developer to come to Preston and build new retail facilities, with the subsequent creation of jobs and other economic opportunity. The developer pulled out at the last minute and we were left with a city with growing inequality and more and more people living in poverty.”

    What is ‘Community Wealth Building’ and where does procurement fit?

    Councillor Brown realised that the global economic model and the trickle-down approach to economic development was not working for the Preston economy and its residents. Buoyed by a change in political leadership, Preston City Council started to think differently about wealth: “instead of looking to attract wealth through inward investment, we started to think about the wealth we already had at our disposal and building and harnessing that wealth for the benefit of our communities.”

    There is lots of existing wealth in many of our places with much of it held by large public, private and social sector ‘anchor institutions’. Tamar explained that these institutions were important for local economies for five reasons: “they spend lots of money buying goods and services through procurement; they create and sustain lots of jobs; they own lots of land and assets; they often have a democratic mandate; and they are unlikely to leave that place.”

    ‘Anchor institutions’ were therefore seen as a core component of Community Wealth Building in Preston. However, as Andrew explained, in order to harness their potential as part of a wider vision, an understanding was required as to their existing impact: “We knew that ‘anchor institutions’ in Preston spent over EUR 1billion buying goods, services and works through procurement – we just did not know where that money went or what impact it had upon our local economy and residents. We wanted to understand this, so we could collectively change process and practice to harness the potential of the institutions.”

    What is ‘spend analysis’ and how is it used to change policy and practice?

    ‘Spend analysis’ is the methodology which Preston City Council and six other anchor institutions started to use in 2013 to develop an evidence base and understanding of where procurement spend goes. As Councillor Brown explained, this was an important starting point for shifting policy: “we started to work with the think-tank, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) to measure the procurement spend of our ‘anchor institutions’. CLES had undertaken similar work in Manchester and we wanted to particularly understand the existing impact our ‘anchor institutions’ had on the Preston economy.”

    ‘Spend analysis’ explores the procurement spend of the ‘anchor institution’ during a defined period, often a financial year. Andrew explained that the analysis was undertaken in Preston initially for financial year 2012/13: “we explored where over 800million Euros of procurement spend went. We looked at how much was spent with suppliers based in the local economies of Preston (5%) and Lancashire (39%); we looked at how much was spent with suppliers in particular industrial sectors, such as construction; and we looked at how much was spent with Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs).

    The ‘spend analysis’ gave Preston an evidence base through which they could adapt procurement processes and practices and harness wealth more effectively. Tamar explained that a range of activities have been undertaken over the last five years to instigate such change: “we have developed a common anchor institution vision for the Preston and Lancashire economies; we also have created a database of Preston based organisations which can potentially bid for procurement opportunities; and we have set up a group, where procurement practitioners can work together to change procurement processes.”

    What has been the impact and what is for transferring?

    In 2017, the ‘anchor institutions’ undertook the ‘spend analysis’ again for financial year 2016/17 to explore the extent to which their impact had changed. As Councillor Brown explains, the shift has been significant: “despite reductions in the total amount being spent buying goods, services and works through procurement, the proportion spent with Preston based suppliers has increased from 5% to 18%, and the proportion spent with Lancashire based suppliers has increased from 39% to 79%.

    Making Spend Matter is therefore looking to transfer the methodology of ‘spend analysis’ to other cities and their ‘anchor institutions’ as its primary purpose. However, as Andrew details, the process of ‘spend analysis’ is far more than an analytical tool: “not only has ‘spend analysis’ enabled us to develop an evidence base; it has also enabled us to work together more effectively, to develop a common vision, to understand the Preston business base, and most importantly change the culture of procurement.

    There are therefore three things for transferring through Making Spend Matter:

    • a methodology in the form of ‘spend analysis’;
    • a way of developing partnerships and cooperation between ‘anchor institutions’;
    • a way of enabling local economic, social and environmental change through the process of procurement.

    What are the aspirations for Making Spend Matter?

    The process of public procurement is not an easy thing to change. Public authorities need to rightly comply with legislation, make decisions on the basis of cost and quality, ensure that the process is competitive, and be robust. However, these are also opportune times to use procurement as a mechanism or lever for addressing wider economic, social and environmental challenges across Europe.

    Preston and other cities across Europe are beginning to change the way in which they approach procurement, but as Tamar explains this must be done in the context of a number of factors:

    • “in order to change procurement practice you need a robust evidence base – cities have to understand their baseline position”
    • “you need to ensure that the change in procurement is strategic – it has to be linked to the wider political and policy priorities which your city is seeking to achieve”
    • “changing procurement requires vast shifts in culture and behaviour and you have to be realistic – it takes time – Preston has been working on this for over five years”

    These factors of evidence, time, being strategic, and realism therefore frame the aspirations of Making Spend Matter. As Network Expert for Phase 1, I want to see our six partner cities learn about the Good Practice, apply it to their own contexts, co-produce a transfer method that works for them transnationally and locally, and to be aspirational in how they can potentially change the process of public procurement.

    A final word from Councillor Brown: “through engagement with ‘anchor institutions’, ‘spend analysis’, and changes to procurement, we are fundamentally shifting our approach in Preston to economic development and in the process improving our economy and changing lives. We hope that through Making Spend Matter, we can continue to evolve, and importantly contribute towards shifting cultures in our partner cities.”


    Visit the network's page: Making Spend Matter

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  • Progressing procurement practice through spend analysis


    Anchor institutions using spend analysis to improve procurement practice and benefit the local economy

    Tamar Reay
    Policy Officer
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    In 2013, Preston City Council (UK) and six other anchor institutions embarked on a project to identify how their wealth could be understood and harnessed more effectively for the benefit of the local economy. An element of wealth that anchors institutions can influence their procurement spend. Central to the work in Preston has been the analysis of these institutions’ procurement (1 billion euros), to understand where that spend goes geographically and on which types of business type, and what happens to it once it reaches suppliers. The anchor institutions then used the evidence gathered to inform how they undertake procurement. Some institutions have revisited the spend analysis: evidence suggests their spend has increased in the local economy and with small to medium-sized enterprises. The work demonstrates the importance of using evidence to shape policy change and the role of procurement in addressing challenges.

    The solutions offered by the good practice

    The good practice offered by the Preston City Council and the six other anchor institutions is a methodology and means of changing behaviour around procurement so that it generates more local economic, social, and environmental benefits. The methodology consists of three parts. First, it enables cities and institutions to understand where their procurement spend goes. So, the methodology measures the extent to which the annual 1 billion euros of procurement spend of the anchor institutions is with: businesses based in Preston and Lancashire, SMEs and social enterprises, and with businesses in particular industrial sectors. Second, it enables cities and institutions to understand the extent to which their procurement spend occurs elsewhere in the UK and across Europe and in which sector and to explore the scope for that money to be spent with different types of business, for example.. Third, it enables cities and institutions to identify the extent to which their suppliers are creating jobs or apprenticeships and find out about their practices around social sector engagement or environmental management. Effectively this activity develops an evidence base through which cities can understand the existing contribution their anchor institutions make to a local economy and assists in developing policies and practices through procurement which can enhance those contributions and further harness the potential or wealth of anchor institutions.

    Building on the sustainable and integrated approach

    The good practice fits with URBACT principles because it is about harnessing the wealth of anchor institutions through procurement spend which can help to create wealth in the local economy, thereby reducing poverty and social exclusion through increased employment opportunities, the creation of new businesses and supply chains, skills development, and dealing with environmental issues, for example, by reducing carbon footprint, waste etc. It is also based on an integrated and participatory approach whereby the anchor institutions (public and social sector) work together to ensure that their procurement spend is used to bring additional economic, social, and environmental benefits to their local economies. The recent inclusion of stakeholders from business networks ensures that the voice of the private sector, and also supply chains, are involved in the process. Whilst the good practice initially focused specifically on the Preston local authority area, it has now been broadened to encompass the wider functional urban area (of Preston and South Ribble) and also the wider Lancashire region, ensuring that the horizontal, vertical, and territorial integration aspects have been taken into account.

    Based on a participatory approach

    The work around anchor institutions and spending analysis in Preston commenced in 2013 and continues in 2017. Over the last four years a range of stakeholders has been involved and the whole project is framed by a cooperative desire across the institutions to use their wealth to create greater benefits for the local economy. Stakeholders have been involved throughout the work. 1) The chief executives and political leaders (where appropriate) were visited to secure their buy-in to the principles of harnessing the wealth of institutions. 2) Procurement officers in each of the institutions were engaged to share data around their procurement spend and their suppliers to enable the analysis to take place. 3) The chief executives, politicians and procurement officers were brought together to share the findings of the supply chain analysis and to develop a collective statement of intent as to how they were going to change practices around procurement in light of the analysis. 4) The procurement officers have continued to meet through a procurement practitioners group and now an URBACT local group (as part of the Procurement Network) to discuss how they are changing practice around procurement. 5) The supply chain of some of the anchors has been engaged to identify the wider impact they are bringing through the delivery of goods and services. Engagement has been sustained over the course of the last four years with the stakeholders described above.

    What difference has it made?

    The overall achievements of Preston have been: 1) It has positioned Preston as a progressive place for local economic development and addressing poverty. 2) It has led to a much more effective relationship within and between institutions in Preston. 3) It has enabled a range of baseline data to be collected about the existing impact of anchor institutions and the wider business base in Preston. 4) It has secured the buy-in of senior stakeholders and enabled the development of a collective statement of intent. 5) Through the analysis of where spend goes and in what sector, it has enabled a much greater understanding of Preston’s business base and those which could potentially deliver goods and services. 6) It has changed behaviour around procurement in each of the institutions and enabled enhanced impact. For example, the proportion of spending of Preston City Council with Preston-based businesses through procurement has increased from 14% to 28%. 7) It has recognised that this is a long-term approach to addressing key challenges. 8) It recognises the importance of scale when implementing wealth-building initiatives. 9) It has had an impact on addressing wider issues including low pay and deprivation. The core impact has been in the behaviour of anchor institutions and the realisation that spending analysis and procurement can be utilised as a lever or way in which challenges facing cities can be addressed. 10) The approach has enabled more effective engagement with SMEs and subsequently a greater proportion of SMEs being successful. 11) There is a more collective approach to not only delivering local economic benefits through procurement but also to Social Value. 6) It has changed behaviour around procurement in each of the institutions and enabled enhanced impact. For example, the proportion of spending of Preston City Council with Preston-based businesses through procurement has increased from 14% to 28%. 7) It has recognised that this is a long-term approach to addressing key challenges. 8) It recognises the importance of scale when implementing wealth-building initiatives. 9) It has had an impact on addressing wider issues including low pay and deprivation. The core impact has been in the behaviour of anchor institutions and the realisation that spending analysis and procurement can be utilised as a lever or way in which challenges facing cities can be addressed.

    Transferring the practice

    Over 2.5 years, Preston has led the Making Spend Matter network, transferring its practice to 6 other cities: Pamplona (Spain), Kavala (Greece), Bistriţa (Romania), Koszalin (Poland), Vila Nova de Famalicão (Portugal), Schaerbeek (Belgium). You can, in particular, check Koszalin’s Good practice here. The approach was based on Preston’s four areas of work adaptable to each city’s reality: Advanced Spend Analysis, Business Database Development, SME Capacity Building, and Social and Environmental Criteria. The final outputs are all available on the URBACT website.

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  • The importance of procurement to city economies

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    This article explores why procurement is increasingly being seen as a way of addressing some of the economic, social and environmental issues facing our cities. It does this through reflecting on: the legislative framework for procurement; the activities of the Procure network; the importance of understanding where procurement spend goes; and how social considerations can be more effectively embedded into procurement processes.

    Local Economic Development


    The process of purchasing goods and services (procurement) has historically been seen as a bit of a challenge for municipalities and other institutions within our cities, especially when it comes to linking it to the achievement of wider local economic, social and environmental benefits. The process of procurement can and has been seen as bureaucratic, legally complex, isolated from other functions in municipalities, difficult to engage with for Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), and extremely competitive.
    However, that perception and culture is in a time of change – procurement is suddenly seen as one of the key levers cities have at their disposal to stimulate local economic development and address social and environmental issues.  I have been talking about the importance of procurement in contributing towards wider outcomes for the last ten years. Indeed Manchester City Council in the UK, with whom I have been working with for the last 8 years, have seen levels of procurement spend with Manchester based business and organisations increase from 51.5% in 2008 to 73.6% in 2016 (see chart below); together with an array of wider benefits delivered by the supply chain. 
    Business and organisations increase, Manchester, United Kingdom, 2008 - 2016
    There are also sporadic elements of good practice across Europe. We are now however moving towards procurement being part of mainstream policy around the Urban Agenda for the EU. Indeed procurement is a specific theme of the emerging Urban Innovation Partnerships and a theme which cuts across other aspects including around economic development and poverty. 
    Part of this mainstreaming of procurement has been driven by legislation and particularly the 2014 European Procurement Directives. Previously and rightly, the Directives were framed by the importance of compliance, competitiveness and price in procurement processes, decisions, and the delivery of goods and services. This remains in the new Directives, but is importantly supplemented by three key considerations:
    • First, the Directives seek to encourage more flexibility in procurement – this includes the ability to engage with potential suppliers before a good or service goes to the market;
    • Second, the Directives seek to enhance the engagement of SMEs in the procurement process – making them more aware of opportunities, encouraging them to bid, and ultimately winning contracts;
    • Third, the Directives actively encourage purchasers to consider how procurement can be used to address wider social and environmental goals.
    The Procure network
    This mainstreaming of the importance of procurement in part framed the development of the Procure network as part of the URBACT III Programme. Led by Preston City Council from the UK, we felt that there was a real opportunity to think through how the process of procurement could be undertaken differently in cities so that the benefits it brings for local economies, business and residents could be maximised. 
    Importantly, the Procure network is not just focused upon the procurement processes adopted by municipalities. Instead, the network and particularly the URBACT Local Groups (ULGs) also include institutions which we are defining as ‘anchor institutions’ (this includes universities, health organisations, housing organisations, and large businesses). These are organisations across the public, commercial and social sectors which: will have a large number of jobs; will spend a lot of money purchasing goods and services; and which are unlikely to leave that locality as result of their scale or because of the fact they are embedded there.   
    Over the course of the two years of the Procure network we are seeking to encourage our cities to understand:
    • How the European Procurement Directives and associated national level law influences the design of goods and services and their procurement;
    • Where their existing spend goes – the extent to which it is in their local economies, with particular sectors of business, and with SMEs;
    • How they can be innovative in procurement and particularly how social and environmental criteria can be embedded in the process;
    • How SMEs can be engaged in the process and supported to bid for opportunities;
    • How the impact of procurement spend and its contribution to wider outcomes can be measured and monitored.
    Our network is however not starting from nothing – the baseline study suggested that each of the cities had at least started on the process of progressing how they undertake procurement, the key is maximising that through the transnational meetings, the activities of the ULGs, and the development of the Integrated Action Plans (IAPs).
    Some examples include:
    • Preston (UK) has measured where the procurement spend of their anchor institutions goes in geographical and sectoral terms;
    • Albacete (Spain) has started to link procurement to job creation through including clauses in contracts around creating employment opportunities;
    • Almelo (Netherlands) are working with business networks to develop the skills and capabilities of SMEs to enable them to bid for procurement opportunities;
    • Koszalin (Poland) have linked what they want to achieve through procurement to the priorities of their Development Strategy;
    • Lublin (Poland) has a dedicated procurement office and procurement plan which gives potential suppliers notice of upcoming opportunities;
    • Candelaria (Spain) look to co-design goods and services with residents of the city through community panels and prior to any procurement process being undertaken;
    • The Metropolitan City of Bologna (Italy) has been innovative in procurement through actively considering green issues, social responsibility and the role of SMEs in contracting;
    • Koprivnica (Croatia) is seeking to encourage SMEs to bid for opportunities by reducing the number of quotes required for tenders below 20,000 Euros;
    • Nagykallo (Hungary) have engaged with businesses prior to procurement to make them aware of opportunities;
    • District 9, Prague (Czech Republic) advertises all procurement opportunities on the municipality website;
    • Satu Mare (Romania) are undertaking some lotting of procurement opportunities to encourage smaller businesses to bid. 
    The importance of spend analysis

    Central to the activities of the Procure network to date has been setting the context for the Integrated Action Plans. Prior to cities doing any work around maximising the impact of procurement through social and environmental criteria and through the engagement of SMEs, they need to understand three contextual factors. First, they need to understand the legislative framework in which the action plan is being developed – this encompasses European and National level law and local level policy. Second, they need to understand the ways in which they can be innovative in procurement and what they can do around local economic, social and environmental issues. And third, they need to understand their existing position in terms of where their spend goes.

    As emphasised in the URBACT method for action planning evidence is crucial to the development of any strategy.  If cities are serious about progressing the way in which they undertake procurement and they want it to reap more benefits in local economic, social and environmental terms then they need to understand the existing nature of their spend and where it goes. Spend analysis is best undertaken at the end of a financial year and existing data can be used and added to in order to identify the following:
    • The geography of spend – in this, they might be interested in the proportion of their suppliers and the proportion of their spend which is with businesses and organisations based in their municipality boundary; in their wider city-region or region; or/and in their country. They might also be interested in the proportion of spend which is leaking out of their municipality boundary or city-region.
    • The sectors of spend – in this, they might be interested in the proportion of spend which is with organisations in the construction or communications sector, for example or with consultants. This can in turn be linked to the geographical analysis to identify the sectors where there is lots of spend in their municipality or city-region; and in turn the sectors where there is leakage out of the local economy and gaps (sectors where there is very little local spend).  
    • The nature of spend - In this they might be interested in the proportion of their spend which is with SMEs or Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), for example. This can in turn be linked to the geographical analysis to identify the extent to which suppliers based in the municipality or city-region are SMEs or NGOs.
    • Sharing this data with local stakeholders in accessible ways, for instance with infographics, helps to increase understanding of the impact of public expenditure, and generate better awareness of procurement as a tool to achieve policy goals. 
    Maximising benefit through procurement
    All of our partner cities are currently in the process of undertaking their spend analysis and setting the wider context for their Integrated Action Plans. Once done on this we will start to scope how they can embed social criteria into procurement processes and really start to maximise benefit through procurement. There are a number of ways of doing this including:
    • Commissioning – in the design of goods and services, anchor institutions can ask potential suppliers to develop products which address particular outcomes such as reducing crime;
    • Tender process – in the tender process, anchor institutions can set percentages of the selection decision which will be assigned to social considerations, for example 10% and then ask potential suppliers questions around these criteria;
    • Tender decision – in the decision, anchor institutions can score against social considerations;
    • Monitoring – anchor institutions can monitor the extent to which suppliers are delivering against social considerations. 
    The Procure network partner cities are not the only ones undertaking work around promoting the importance of procurement to city economies, but it does need to be scaled up. In fact, we believe progressive procurement activity should be at the forefront of all policy activities where economic, social and environmental factors are of key importance. This includes the delivery of infrastructure projects, the spend of anchor institutions, and the delivery of projects including the URBACT Implementation Networks. It is potentially one of the most powerful, but perhaps under used tools to achieve an integrated approach.  
    Over the course of the two years of the network, we will look to change practice around the process of procurement in our 11 cities, and to contribute to examples and proof of concept to share with other cities. It must be noted however that behaviour change across Europe will take much longer to ensure that the importance of procurement to city economies is realised. 
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