The FABULOS project seeks new solutions and technologies to prepare cities for the future of mobility, including concepts such as self-driving buses. Novel transport solutions will be developed and acquired by utilising a Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP), which allows the Procuring Partners to share the risks and benefits with the suppliers. The expected outcome of the FABULOS project is the demonstration of automated minibus service as part of the public transport system.

For the companies, the FABULOS pre-commercial procurement process offers the first instance of their solution in use, in addition to financial assistance. The end result, including the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), remain with the suppliers. For the other stakeholders, the FABULOS pre-commercial procurement serves as source of new information on regulations and the practical implementation, covering the type of technology required, benefits and overall impact, including on a societal level.

Pre-commercial procurement is exempted from the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, the EU public procurement directives and the national laws that implement them. This is because it concerns the procurement of R&D services where the benefits do not accrue exclusively for the contracting authority.

Pre-Commercial Procurement Process

The pre-commercial procurement process consists of three clearly defined phases: concept design, prototype development and field testing (see graphic below). In each of these phases significant budgets are available for suppliers to support their work  the total budget being up to 5,500,000 Euros. 


Phase o: Open Market Consultation

Prior to the concept design phase is the open market consultation in which the scope of the FABULOS pre-commercial procurement will be refined through a dialogue with potential suppliers and other stakeholders. The outcome of this phase is the preparation of a request for tenders to be launched in September 2018. The open market consultation is scheduled for April and May 2018.

Phase 1: Solution design

This phase is a feasibility study of the proposed solutions and technologies, which aims to verify the technical, economic and organisational feasibility of each supplier’s offer. The expected output from participating suppliers is a report describing the results of the feasibility study and the conclusions for the start of prototype development.

A minimum of 10 suppliers are expected to be selected for the concept design phase. This phase will take place in the first three months of 2019. The maximum budget per supplier is 34,656 euros, excluding value added tax (VAT).

Phase 2: Prototype development and lab test

The purpose of this phase is to take the most promising concepts that have been shown to be feasible in phase 1 and develop them into working prototypes. The selection process for phase 2 is based on the phase 1 report and an application process, which will outline the suppliers’ plans for phase 2. Selected suppliers will each develop a prototype based on the results of their feasibility study, the aim of which is to verify the extent to which the prototype’s main features meet the functional and performance requirements set in the challenge. The prototypes will be tested in lab-type environments.

A maximum of six suppliers are expected to be selected for phase 2. The duration of this phase is six months between July and December 2019. The maximum budget per supplier is 251,623 euros, excluding VAT.

Phase 3: Field test

This third and final phase aims to verify and compare the full feature set and performance of different solutions in real-life operational conditions. In practice, the automated minibuses will be tested on open roads in real life conditions. The intention is to undertake testing in five of the procuring cities. The pilot locations will be decided on based on the best possible match between the proposed solutions and local needs, opportunities and regulations.

At the conclusion of the research and development pilots, the IPR and any prototypes will remain the property of the suppliers involved.

A maximum of three of suppliers are expected to be selected for phase 3. The duration of this phase is nine months and will take place between February and October 2020. The maximum budget per supplier is 740,000 euros, excluding VAT.

Phase X: Commercial procurement

At the end of pre-commercial procurement process, the suppliers are expected to continue the refinement of the tested prototypes in order to make them into market-ready solutions that can be procured by additional public procurers. This activity falls outside the scope of FABULOS.


For additional information, visit:
Video on Three little procurers, Innovation Procurement Conference 2017 (3,5 minutes)
Video on Innovation procurement in Horizon 2020 (43 minutes)