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In legal terms 2014 was an important year for innovation procurement.

On the one hand, there is the new European directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement (for classical sectors). The explanatory note to this new EU Directive refers in detail to the strategic role that public procurement can play in the pursuit of 'smart, sustainable and inclusive growth', the Europe 2020 strategy. The purchase of innovative products, works and services is explicitly encouraged. The new directive therefore provides more scope for the use of tendering procedures with negotiation. These offer greater certainty that the solutions will actually meet the needs of the public authorities. The new directive also introduces the concept of Innovation Partnerships which, in a single tendering procedure, combines the development of an innovative solution through the purchase of R&D services with the purchase of the products, goods or services developed.

On the other hand, there is also the new Framework for State aid for Research, Development and Innovation (2014/C 198/01). The new Framework sets out for the first time the concept of 'pre-commercial procurement' and sets out the conditions necessary to ensure that the procurement of R&D services is compatible with the internal market.

Both changes have removed a number of thresholds. They provide more legal certainty and an incentive to use public procurement strategically for innovation.

The transposition of the EU Directive into a new Belgian Public Procurement Act was completed on 17 June 2016 (publication in the Official Gazette of 14 July 2016) and entered into force on 30 June 2017. 

In addition, in the course of 2017-2018, the Government of Flanders has created a new legislative framework for co-financing research and development in the context of public procurement.