A cornerstone of the DIACCESS project is a series of innovative public procurement (IPP) processes/rounds, in which companies are asked to develop a solution (with a strong digital content) for an urban challenge. In five rounds, challenges are gathered from the city of Växjö or one of the city-owned companies; the city challenges are posted, and companies are invited to think about solutions for those challenges. IPP is different from “normal” procurement in the sense that the city does not purchase a well-defined and known product or service from a company; rather, it asks companies to co-develop a solution for a broader defined problem or challenge. After a selection procedure, the city signs a contract with a company (or consortium of companies), to enter the development phase, in which the new solution is co-developed. Only after this is done successfully, the company will become the city’s supplier and will start to make a revenue. Ultimately, the city is not interested in owning the intellectual property rights (IPR) of the new solution, product or service: that will stay in the hands of the company. So, the company can in principle also sell this solution to other cities. This should make it attractive for companies to enter in this partnership.
During the project lifetime, five rounds of IPP are planned; in each round, 2 challenges are to be tackled with new solutions. The project should show a learning curve, in which urban authorities learn how to use this type of procurement in a good way (and obtain better urban solutions that are useful for citizens, city staff and/or save taxpayer money), and in which companies also get used to this new way of dealing with city authorities and may develop new markets. It is hoped that this type of IPP will lead to more digital innovations in the public sector, and also helps companies to explore new markets and hence create economic development and job growth.
Alongside these IPP rounds, the DIACCESS project sets out to create a Digital Lab to develop and prototype new urban innovations. The Lab works in the service of the city: departments can approach the Lab with challenges or problems, to have it explore if there is a possible solution. Another role of the Lab is to make prototypes that demonstrate how digital technology can work in practice. For municipal departments, it may take a lot of imagination to foresee how a solution might work, and in that case, a prototype, even an imperfect one, can help to demonstrate in practice what can be achieved. The Digital Lab has also a social function: it trains unemployed people to obtain new skills that may help them to find a job. On a half-year rotation basis, four selected trainees, supervised by experienced IT experts, learn how to develop digital solutions.
Finally, the project sets out to develop an urban IT platform to store, process and visualise the data that are generated by (and used by) the new digital innovations. The platform should provide its users with insights and information for better decisions and automated activities. The platform is to be open for all actors to provide and collect data with a built-in payment mechanism that will encourage private actors to deliver data on commercial terms.