12 Sep 2008
Are you trying to find a customer for your energy-efficient lighting technology? A new UK scheme could be of interest.
The UK government is pioneering an idea called forward commitment procurement (FCP) which it hopes will drive innovation in industry, and in particular small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The first project adopting the FCP model is Rotherham NHS trust, a hospital that is looking to invest around £2million in ultra-high efficiency lighting (UEL) systems for its "Future Wards" refurbishment programme.
"The FCP approach advocates early engagement with the market to communicate the customer's requirements," Geoff Archenhold of the UK government's Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) told optics.org. "Companies have the assurance that there is an end customer for their products. This is a good way of bringing innovation to customers in the public sector."
Archenhold explains that the term UEL was introduced as a way of looking beyond today's existing technology and emphasising the need for lighting with both improved efficiency and functionality.
"UEL could be any photonics technology, not just LEDs, but OLEDs or other forms of high-efficiency lighting that haven't made it to the market yet," he explained. "We don't want a complete focus on LEDs, we want it to be all inclusive in terms of technology. The FCP approach allows the customer to explain what they would like, which might not be available today."
The Rotherham NHS trust has already published a document detailing the ideas it has in mind for its Future Wards. This document is called a Market Sounding Prospectus, and can be downloaded from the Trust's website.
Briefly however, Rotherham is planning a major ward refurbishment over the next 7 years starting in early 2009 with £2million available for lighting. It is looking for lighting systems across the board from illuminating individual beds and treatment rooms through to general ward and office lighting. There is a particular focus on maximising efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.
If you would like to find out more, BERR is holding an event in London on 29 September to introduce the FCP model and give interested parties a chance to listen to presentations from the NHS and Rotherham. And if you would like to submit an idea, you can do so using the Response Form on the Rotherham Trust website. The deadline is 31 October.
"Market sounding is the stage before procurement and is open to any interested parties across Europe," commented Archenhold.
The good news is that another four hospitals in the UK will be following Rotherham's lead so the number of opportunities to get involved is rising. "BERR has also been working with local authorities to help them reduce their carbon footprint," concluded Archenhold. "This is not just UEL but also photovoltaics and optical communications. There are a lot of photonic technologies under discussion."
To register for the BERR event in London, please send your details to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacqueline Hewett is editor of Optics & Laser Europe magazine.