UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


IIPP and Camden host procurement roundtable to achieve social good

23 March 2023

Mariana Mazzucato, IIPP and Georgia Gould, Camden Council, hosted a roundtable with experts from across think tanks, anchor institutions and academics to discuss mission-oriented procurement to achieve social good.

Camden Council and IIPP Roundtable discussion, March 2023. 17 people sitting around a long table in a meeting room

UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) and Camden Council have hosted a roundtable discussion exploring how procurement can support a mission-oriented approach in local government.  
The closed-door event, on 9 March 2023, brought together experts from across thinktanks, anchor institutions and academics who are leaders in the field of innovative procurement practices. Attendees learned about the emerging insights from the first phase of the project ‘Mission-led procurement in Camden’, delivered by IIPP Policy Studio in partnership with Camden Council. 
IIPP Director Professor Mariana Mazzucato opened the roundtable, outlining the key role that procurement plays as a tool for governments to shape markets, and to achieve social value and public good when used in an outcome-oriented way. IIPP is working globally with a number of governments, alongside the work with Camden, exploring how conditions and objectives can be embedded in procurement to create positive social outcome. 
Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council, emphasised Camden’s journey from the Camden Renewal Commission, set up during the pandemic with the aim to co-create a roadmap for a more equal, sustainable borough, up to the full adoption of the four missions that came out from the Commission’s work, now fully embedded into the council’s strategy. She also explained how the collaboration with IIPP is helping the council to deliver on its promises by exploring the use of different tools, such as the creation of a Community Wealth Fund to help direct finance towards social good, and now the project about mission-led procurement. Gould also recognised the leadership role that Camden is playing in driving change at different scales, in particular collaborating at the regional level with other London councils.  
Hugh Smith, Policy Designer at Camden Council, and Dan Wainwright, Research Fellow at IIPP, highlighted the insights from the first phase of the project. These included: 

  • The market shaping function of procurement and the need for a more proactive role for the council in the local economy – relationships building, storytelling, early engagement with residents, understating the local market and its gaps, are some of the elements that may require more focus. 
  • Place-based procurement – mapping how different services and outcomes interconnect with each other can help measure the value created. 
  • Organisational culture and changing mindset – a key element to enable changing practices around procurement, for example shifting the focus from risk to opportunity. 
  • Capabilities – although the need to invest more and upskill procurement teams is important, it is also essential to look at the broader organisational capabilities needed across the organisation as well as system capabilities, such as how different actors collaborate in mission-oriented approach. 

Additional points highlighted by roundtable participants during the discussion included the need to build capacity also on the supply side, as often small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) can struggle to fill in lengthy paperwork, and the need to engage earlier with suppliers. Most contributors agreed that the key to change procurement practices lay on rethinking capacity and capabilities, changing mindsets and organisational culture, and meaningful engagement with citizens.  
In the second phase of the project the team will start to explore what new tools, instruments, or frameworks could support Camden in embedding a mission-oriented approach.  It was agreed that a second roundtable will be reconvened in a few months’ time to discuss progress.  

For more information:

Camden Council and IIPP Policy Studio explore new approaches to funding local missions - https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/public-purpose/news/2022/nov/camden-council-and-iipp-policy-studio-explore-new-approaches-funding-local-missions

A mission-oriented community wealth fund for Camden: Governing finance with public purpose - https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/public-purpose/publications/2022/nov/mission-oriented-community-wealth-fund-camden-governing-finance-public-purpose

Why local governments should use their community wealth to tackle the cost of living crisis – Ryan Bellinson and Daniel Wainwright’s blog on community wealth funds - https://medium.com/iipp-blog/why-local-governments-should-use-their-community-wealth-to-tackle-the-cost-of-living-crisis-40b8c4f7e355 

Camden Renewal Commission Report launched by Camden Council - https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/public-purpose/news/2022/jan/camden-renewal-commission-report-launched-camden-council 

Camden Renewal Commission - https://camdenrenewal.com/