Does your company offer leading-edge technology or an innovative solution? Are you looking for ways to demonstrate projects with the city and scale your business?

Oslo municipality purchases about NOK 30 billion in goods and services annually, and the need for innovation is growing. Startups and scale-ups have more options than ever for exploring ground-breaking ideas, testing pilot projects and participating in innovative procurement opportunities.

Use this guide to find out where to go, how to connect with the right entities, and how to find out about viable opportunities. The rewards can be considerable, including stable revenue, access to large markets, and positive impact on society. Having the city as a customer can also be a door-opener to international markets.

The following resources, tools and tips will help you find the most relevant programs for your startup and get you going on your public procurement journey.

Procurement levels

The size of a project may impact your sales and business development strategy for the public sector.

Vertical graph of intervals specified bellow

Under 100K NOK

The city can purchase the solution directly from the startup

100K–1.3M NOK

The city entity is required to invite a minimum of 3 bidders to compete for the tender

Over 1.5M NOK

The project must be announced on Doffin, the procurement database

Tips

Anders ThuePartner, Advokatfirmaet Simonsen Vogt Wiig
Consider partnering with or subcontracting to a larger company or bundle of companies that have public sector experience and can fulfill technical and financial requirements. Collaborating can also help you score higher on applications. Register in procurement databases so that you get notifications about new opportunities. CPV-codes will help you get notified of relevant opportunities for your startup. If you are in a traditional category, it is probably easy to find your CPV-codes. But if you are a less traditional company, it is harder to match up with the correct codes. In this case, you will have to do some research and talk to people to align with the best codes for your startup. Get to know the market and people to present your solution to well before the process starts. Seek out people in the city who need your solution, and be sure to also share with the purchasing head who is leading the procurement process. Read procurement requirements closely to ensure you qualify before diving into the application process. Consider partnering with or subcontracting to a larger company or bundle of companies that have public sector experience and can fulfill technical and financial requirements. Collaborating can also help you score higher on applications. Pull out key words written in the tender documents and address them specifically in your tender. The devil is in the details. Ask for a meeting to better understand why you were rejected in cases of unsuccessful tendering.

Tips

Fredrik GulowsenFounder & CEO, Nyby
It is OK to start small instead of going for the big deal. It’s tempting to think you are going to win one large contract, but the City of Oslo is split into different parts with separate purchasing units, so you should plan on contacting them individually. Be purpose-driven. Go on study trips to get to know people and the challenges they want to solve. Approach the municipality as a partner and ditch the supplier-vendor mentality. Speak their language. Think national, act local. Identify a common challenge across municipalities with an aim to replicate and scale your solution. Read publicly available MOUs and meeting notes to understand needs and generate leads. Build, test, learn, iterate. Test your assumptions, try to kill your idea early on, test with your warm network, and seek out critical minds who can offer feedback and potentially become champions.

Pilot programs

Initiate projects and test new solutions

Direct sales and subcontracting

Generate leads and team up with experienced partners

Innovative procurement and partnerships

Engage with the city to solve key challenges

Standard procurement

Register your company and submit proposals

Programs and opportunities

Find the programs and opportunities that are right for you, from R&D and pilot projects to innovative procurements. For some projects, your startup can apply directly while for others, you need a municipal partner to be the lead applicant.

Networking and business development

Selling goods and services to the City of Oslo is similar to business-to-business sales in the private sector. The key is to be top of mind and well prepared as procurements take shape.

Explore these resources and attend events to identify where the potential benefit of your solution is greatest, which public entities would be interested in trying something new, and where to connect with decision makers and procurement contacts.

Start here to build your network and get the dialogue flowing.

Be proactive

Rather than waiting until opportunities are publicly announced, it’s useful to proactively research city strategies, goals and challenges that are relevant to your company and industry.

Think outside the box

Keep in mind that your company’s solution may have potential applications outside your usual industry.

Build relationships

Plan on building relationships over time and nurturing them as partnerships for solving mutual challenges. The process will move more smoothly and efficiently than if you go out on cold calls and pitch solutions without a clear understanding of the users’ needs.

Attend events

Meeting people face-to-face is always the best way to understand needs and open doors to opportunities. Attend events to get to know people in your industry and learn how things work.

Tools and resources

Here are some tools to help you navigate the public sector, research growth industries, and identify relevant opportunities.

Tips

Kjersti BergConsultant, StartOff
Pitch how you are going to solve a problem, not the solution. Adapt your marketing and sales strategies to public sector clients. Be aware of the different roles in the public entity. For example, you might have been talking to someone who is really enthusiastic, but this person might not be involved in the procurement process. You need to build relationships with both the target user and buyer in the municipality. Whether your solution is developed and ready to be implemented, or needs more development or adjustments and testing, public entities are obliged to consider how the rules of public procurement apply to be able to acquire/buy it. Public entities need problem-solving, not just solutions. Encouraging suppliers and public entities to gather around a specific issue can be a great way to spark dialogue, meet the right people, and for suppliers to present their problem-solving abilities. This might be a challenge for relatively new businesses because you might not have a network within your sector. Creating this starting point might be helpful for the public entities, because it can be an eye opener to understand the private sector, startups and scaleups better.

Tips

Ida LaustsenInnovation Broker, National Programme for Supplier Development (LUP)
Sometimes it’s more important to qualify out of the competition rather than investing time and resources in something for which you are not well qualified. To help you decide whether or not to pursue a new business opportunity with the City of Oslo: Check out the city's website for suppliers where they publish needs, criteria, competitions, and financial support for development projects. Make a strategic choice of delivering to the public sector. Is the public buyer a good partner for your company? Do you have the time and resources to deliver and participate in a procurement process? Can you deliver or do you need to partner with other companies? Watch this video on innovative procurements (it's in Norwegian) Participate in market dialogues and supplier conferences that are announced on DOFFIN or this calendar. Listen to the needs and goals that are communicated by the public buyer. Network. Showcase your solutions and give input on how your company can contribute.

Case studies

Take a look at how some startups have scaled their businesses through the public sector.

Oda

Smart food delivery saved Bærum municipality NOK 3M the first year.

Read Oda's case

Dignio

Remote monitoring of patients with long-term conditions

Read Dignio's case