Suppliers of smart fabrics and bioprinting sought for £650m government innovation marketplace

Written by Sam Trendall on 26 March 2019 in News
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Providers of emerging tech invited to bid for a place on the Spark platform

A “technology innovation marketplace” for government to buy emerging products and services is to launch in the next few weeks.

The Spark platform, which began pre-market engagement a year ago, published its contract notice this month, inviting bidders to put themselves forward for a spot on a dynamic purchasing system (DPS). Crown Commercial Service has estimated that up to £650m could be spent through the DPS over its four-year lifespan.

Unlike traditional frameworks – which appoint a fixed number of providers to supply specified products and services – new suppliers can be continuously added over the course of a DPS, and incumbent firms can expand their range of offerings.

Spark is designed to enable public sector entities to more easily conduct proof-of-concept exercises and invest in new technology areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, analytics, and smart devices. 


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The platform will feature a “dynamic filtering system” designed to ensure that suppliers hear about relevant opportunities, while buyers are able to identify the provider that best meets their needs. 

The first filter allows buyers and bidders to assess split opportunities into one of 35 core subject areas, covering the breadth of central and local government, health, the emergency services, and education. 

The second filter covers 64 different technologies in eight areas: the internet of things; AI and automation; simulated and enhanced environments; engineering and materials science; data; wearable technology; transport; and security.

Additional filters allow suppliers and bidders to assess opportunities or suppliers based on geographical location and security level.

Among the more eye-catching technologies suppliers can apply to list via the Spark DPS are deep neural networks, neuromorphic hardware, bioprinting, smart fabrics, acoustic sensing, and muscle-computer interface technology. Other areas – including chatbots, 3D printing, blockchain, drones, and body-worn cameras – are more mainstream.

For further information, interested suppliers are invited to attend one of a series of hour-long webinars, taking place on 28 March, and 2 April, and 8 April.

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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