Questions and answers
These are some of the common questions about the competition process (*). If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to the AI4Cities team by using the form below or by contacting us HERE.
The questions in each section are listed in a chronological order as we receive them. If you don't want to scroll down to find the newest questions, you can find an overview of the most recent questions HERE.
1. Who is exactly AI4Cities?
AI4Cities is a consortium built by a Buyers Group and an expert partner. The Buyers Group are organisations representing six cities and regions that aim to become carbon neutral: Helsinki (Finland), Amsterdam (the Netherland), Paris Region (France), Copenhagen (Denmark), Tallinn (Estonia), and Stavanger (Norway). The lead procurer and coordinator is Forum Virium Helsinki. The Buyers Group members are: Forum Virium Helsinki, the City of Amsterdam, Cap Digital, the City of Copenhagen, the City of Tallinn, and the City of Stavanger. The expert partner is ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability.
2. What is PCP?
PCP stands for pre-commercial procurement. It means that public procurers challenge innovative players on the market, via an open, transparent and competitive process, to develop new solutions for a technologically demanding mid- to long-term challenge that is in the public interest and requires new R&D services. PCP is a tool to get innovation solutions researched, developed and tested - and, if requested by the procurers, also deployed at small scale - but not yet deployed at large scale.
3. What is the main difference between PCP and PPI?
PCP addresses the development and testing of innovative solutions. PPI focuses on the deployment of innovative solutions on a larger scale. Please visit the reference sites provided to find out more about the differences between PCP and PPI.
4. What is AI4Cities looking for?
We are looking for artificial intelligence solutions and other enabling digital technologies, that respond to the mobility and energy challenges identified by the Buyers Group. The final goal is to reduce CO2 emissions and accelerate carbon neutrality.
5. Do you only consider ideas that focus on carbon neutrality?
Solutions must be directed at reducing CO2 emissions and help cities reach carbon neutrality via AI and other enabling technologies. Other indirect benefits are welcomed.
6. Who will own the IP at the end of the project?
Ownership of results (foreground). Each supplier will keep ownership of the IPRs attached to the results they generate during the pre-commercial procurement (PCP) implementation. The tendered price is expected to take this into account. The ownership of the IPRs will be subject to the following: ● the Buyers Group has the right to: access results, on a royalty-free basis, for their own use: grant (or to require the suppliers to grant) non-exclusive licences to third parties to, and exploit the results under fair and reasonable conditions (without the right to sub-license) ● the Buyers Group has the right to require the suppliers to transfer ownership of the IPRs if the suppliers fail to comply with their obligation to commercially exploit the results (see below) or use the results to the detriment of the public interest (including security interests).
7. Is the challenge only open to Europe-based companies or also to companies outside Europe?
The call will be open to all participants, as long as a minimum of 50% of the project activities/budget takes place in the EU or Associated countries (Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, and Ukraine).
8. Are UK companies eligible to apply?
Yes. Following the entry into force of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement on 1 February 2020 and in particular Articles 127(6), 137 and 138, the references to natural or legal persons residing or established in a Member State of the European Union are to be understood as including natural or legal persons residing or established in the United Kingdom. This means that EU-funded PCP's (such as AI4Cities) need to:
- allow UK entities to apply for the PCP procurement in any form they like: as main bidder, as consortium member, as subcontractor, etc.
- allow UK entities to perform all R&D for the PCP in the UK.
9. Can you preview our company and advise us if we should participate in your tender?
Unfortunately we can't advise you if you should participate or not in our Request for Tenders. We suggest that you to read thoroughly the tender documents (once there) and decide if the call is suitable for you.
10. Can a company or other kind of entity submit a tender alone or are you looking for consortiums?
Tenders may be submitted by a single entity or in consortium with others.
11. Is it possible to receive AI4Cities funding whilst the recipient organisation is also receiving funds from other H2020 initiatives for other projects?
Tenders receiving public funding from other sources will be excluded if this leads to double public financing or an accumulation of different types of public financing that is not permitted by EU legislation, including EU state aid rules. In other words as long as the R&D on behalf of AI4Cities is complementary to the already funded R&D activities there is no case of double funding. However, if this is not the case and the same activity is funded twice, there is a case of double funding which is not allowed. If you are in real doubt concerning the funding, you may also consider contacting Horizon2020 directly with your questions. You can reach them via this link.
12. Who is responsible for operations in AI4Cities?
Forum Virium Helsinki (FVH) is the lead procurer and responsible for facilitating the challenge.
13. In order to be platform agnostic, can suppliers make AI models available through API?
It would be great if the AI models are available through API.
14. Will you post dates and links on your website to the specific cities webinars?
Yes and you can also register to the AI4Cities newsletter to receive 'live' updates.
16. What are your expectations from preferred partner cities?
To find more about what does it mean to be a Preferred partner, visit: https://ai4cities.eu/cities/preferred-partners
17. If AI solutions already exist for a challenge presented - do you still want to invest in innovation of new technology to solve same pain?
We are looking for solutions that go beyond the state-of-the-art. If a solution for a challenge is already existing, your solution will have to be clearly better at solving the same challenge for us to consider investing in it.
18. Do we have to stick to the cases presented e.g. in OMC webinars?
No, the use cases are just examples but it will be in the Request for Tenders where we will define a list of needs common to at least two cities of the Buyers Group. You can also suggest something else as long as it is related to the energy and mobility fields, reduction of CO2 emissions, and the use of AI.
19. How can we verify whether certain data sources are available? Can cities help with gathering data?
The data sources vary between the cities. The members of the Buyers Group are helping suppliers to find the information from the cities by providing a data set. Main mobility data sources from the cities can be found here, whereas main energy data sources from the cities can be found here.
20. We are looking for partners to join a consortium for the AI4Cities tender.
Check the matchmaking tool and introduce your data, or check the matchmaking table where you can look for interested parties who are searching for the products and services you provide and you can team up with them for the tender.
21. Do the solutions need to directly involve AI or could a possible solution also include something that makes AI by others easier?
The solutions have to directly involve AI, but the way to reduce CO2 emissions could be indirect.
22. Can the solution be built on approaches that have been tested succesfully before on lab?
Yes, if the solution is not on the market yet.
23. May the suggested solution be based on components/tech the participating company already has patents for in the US?
Yes, that is possible.
24. Is presence of potential customer(s) for the same solution outside the EU considered a plus?
Any indication of commercial feasibility is an advantage, as long as the solution is not on the markets or either outside EU.
25. Will the suppliers be interacting with H2020?
Suppliers are doing the contract with the Lead Procurer (in this case Forum Virium Helsinki). Administrative reporting will reflect the rules of the H2020 grant agreement, including as relates to the place of performance, the definition of R&D services, confidentiality, results and IPRs, the visibility of EU funding, conflicts of interest, language, obligation to provide information and keep records, audits and checks by the EU, the processing of personal data, liability for damages and ethics and security requirements.
26. Will experts from the cities be available for (regular) one-on-one sessions with the teams, will there be general session for asking questions, or will this involvement be in some other format?
Meetings and support depends on the solutions of the selected suppliers and they will be considered case by case.
27. Is Copenhagen not taking part in the mobility challenge? What about Tallinn? Is this also appearing somewhere in the documents?
That’s correct, Copenhagen is not taking part in the Mobility Lot and Tallinn is not participating in the Energy Lot. It’s mentioned on the website, e.g. on the mobility and energy pages.
28. Can the consortium be made of an SME and a Research Institute? Or does it need to be composed of only for-profit companies?
There are no rules for the selection of the consortium.
29. During the pilot phase, can the pilots be located anywhere in Europe?
The minimum requirement is that the pilots have to be done in at least two of the Buyers Group cities. Other pilots can be done if the supplier has resources (time and money) to execute them, but that is not required.
30. With royalty free use, I trust you mean only the results, not the entire solution?
It covers the solution which is the result of the tender.
31. Can you please explain why there is no Mutual NDA for this tender to be signed? We have patents pending and risk losing these patents without NDA in place.
Every person who will be evaluating the tenders will sign a NDA. But you should consider carefully what information you are able to publish not to harm your pending patents.
32. Does the developed software need to be licensed to the Buyers Group?
The Buyers Group has the right to use to the created software or product for a specific time without lincence fees. The lenght of the period will be determined on a case by case basis.
33. The Buyers Group has the right to license the software to a third party. How is a 'third party' defined?
Third parties can be cities’ subsidiaries or companies owned by the cities and are the potential end-users of the solutions. A third party can be for example a transportation company.
34.Can answers to questions be emailed to participants?
In public procurement, questions and answers are to be published along with the general procurement documentation, and thus become part of the tender documentation openly avaiable.
35.What does it mean that the Buyers Group can licence third parties to commercially (or non-connercially) exploit the results?
Commercially can mean for example when the solution is part of a service for which you have to pay a charge, like a bus or train ticket. The Buyers Group only has this right for a limited time period that will be agreed with each supplier that has passed Phase 3.
36.What is the exact period of time for which the Supplier will grant a license to the Buyers Buyers? When and how will this period of time be determined?
There is no exact period defined and it will be agreed with each supplier, one on one, when the project has ended. It alsp depends on if a member of the Buyers Group is interested in further testing the solution.
37. Can you clarify the liability of the Lead tenderer and the liability of other members of a consortium?
All members of the consortium are jointly and separately bound to fulfil the terms of the contracts. The Lead Tenderer shall be mandated to act on behalf of the consortium for the purposes of the contracts and shall have the authority to bind the consortium. Therefore, a joint Tender must specify the role, qualification and experience of each member of the consortium. A single authorised representative of the association or consortium, with sufficient powers to exercise the rights and comply with the obligations that arise from the AI4Cities pre-commercial procurement procedure shall be appointed and be mandated as the Lead Tenderer.
1. Will it be one common tender for all cities or one per city?
The Request for Tender is joint for the Buyers Group (the cities involved in the project).
2. How many challenges are being included in the tenders?
There are multiple sub-challenges presented in the RfT under two main challenges: Mobility (Lot 1) and Energy (Lot 2).
3. If I did not participate for the Open Market Consultation events or surveys, can I still leave an offer?
Yes, you can. The consultation period only enabled the AI4Cities Consortium to get a better view of the existing market by talking with potential suppliers and other specialists in the field.
4. What kind on consortium do you imagine answering to the AI4Cities Request for Tenders? Can you detail the type of actors (manufactures, engineering companies, laboratories etc..)?
Any consortium that has a proposal for the full solution. It can be one company or a consortium of multiple companies. However, suppliers, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, startups and other experts who are able to consult in the following domains would be relevant: Climate change, AI software and hardware development, public traffic management and planning, energy efficiency and infrastructure, and building maintenance.
5. How many tenders can one company hand in?
One Tenderer can submit multiple Tenders, as long as the solutions are different, but can be selected only once.
6. Can a main actor be part of several consortia?
A company can be a partner in several consortiums, if the other consortiums accept it too, but a company can be selected as a Lead Tenderer only once.
7. Can you be selected as Lead Tenderer in one tender and as partner in another, within the same Lot?
The general rule is that you can submit several tenders in both lots and ou can have different roles in the tenders, but in the end you can be selected
- once as a Lead Tenderer in one Lot or
- as a partner in one or two consortiums (if other partners accept it)
- not both
8. Can two legal entities within the same multinational group submit different tenders and be both selected?
Yes, two legal entities within the same multinational group (from two different countries) can submit different tenders and be selected both, as they are different legal entities.
9. Can a research lab be a supplier?
Yes, as long as the solution is credible.
10. Can the team composition be flexible? For example, academics or external parties in one phase, but not in the following phases.
The core team should be set up from the beginning, but you can propose a wider team, with members that are not engaged in Phase 1, but they are in Phases 2 or 3.
11. Is there a maximum consortium size?
No. But note that there is a maximum available budget.
12. Is there an overview of the documentation regarding the Request for Tenders?
We recommend you to look at the AI4Cites Pre-Commercial Procurement Tendering Guide, that includes information about all the documentation and guides you through the tendering process.
Tender Document 1: Request for Tenders
Tender Document 2: Functional Specifications
Tender Document 3: PCP Framework Agreement
Tender Document 4: Specific contract for Phase 1
Form A: General Tender Submission and Power of Attorney
Form B: Exclusion Criteria
Form C: Selection Criteria
Form D: Compliance Criteria
Form E: Technical Offer Phase 1
Form F: Financial breakdown
Form G: Financial Offer Phase 1
Form H: Executive Summary
13. Which law applies?
The Finnish law applies to all contracts, as Forum Virium Helsinki is the lead procurer.
14. Is it allowed to try out new business models and investigate this during the piloting phase?
Yes, this is allowed.
15. Is it possible for suppliers to suggest amendments and/or modifications to the Framework Agreement?
No, this is not possible.
16. In an offer, do suppliers need to describe all the phases or only the first phase?
The offer needs to cover all the three phases. With the 40 winning consortia, we will sign both a Contract for phase 1 as well as a Framework Agreement covering all three phases.
17. Max. budget per phase is defined with a max. budget per supplier. With the term “supplier”, do you mean per consortium member or can subcontractors also be named as suppliers?
The term “supplier” refers to the entire consortium. You are able to divide the budget between your consortium members as you wish.
18. Is the AI4Cities organisation asking tenderers for specific ideas for specific problems or is the competition open for any kind of ideas from potential contractors?
We have defined specific sub-challenges for both Lots for which we are looking for solutions. In addition, both Lots have a “wildcard” sub-challenge which allows tenderers to submit any kind of a solution as long as it reduces CO2 emissions and utilises AI.
19. Is there a rule for how much of R&D Services must be performed within EU or Associated Countries?
The Contractor, including its subcontractors, shall perform at least 50% of the R&D Services in each Phase within the EU Member States or H2020 Associated Countries, and the principal R&D staff employed by the Contractor and working on each Phase must be located within the EU Member States or the H2020 Associated Countries. The percentage shall be measured in terms of the total price of each Specific Contract allocated to the R&D Services that are performed in the EU Member States or H2020 Associated Countries. The total amount of activities shall include all activities covered by each Specific Contract, including those performed by subcontractors.
20. Can research units or organisations submit a tender?
Yes they can, as long as they also have the capacity to commercialise the solution.
21. Is it possible to choose the city that you are designing the initial solution for? And the second city?
The solution must be piloted in at least two of the Buyers Group cities in Phase 3. The suppliers can indicate in which city/cities they wish to pilot their solution in Form E. We will take the wishes into account, but can not guarantee that they will be fulfilled.
22. We have been working on improving our solution and we are now focusing on specifying the necessary data. For this we would like to have a contact person in every city in order to understand what type of data is present in the different cities. Could you provide us with contact details of the city representatives?
Data sets can be managed by different city departments or sites so it is not possible to name a contact point or a person. We have already published various data links (non-exhaustive) on the project website (mobility and energy). We hope these help.
23. Can one propose two submissions ONE for the ENERGY and ONE for the MOBILITY challenge?
Yes, you can submit more than one tender and to both lots if the solutions are different.
24. What does the 'wild card' category mean?
The purpose of the 'wild card' category is to give freedom to the innovators to present ideas outside of the pre-defined challenges.
25. If we have an existing solution. Is it possible to participate in the tender or are you looking for new solutions which are not yet existing?
You can participate only with a solution that is not yet on the market. If there is a similar solution already in the market, there must be something discernibly new in your solution compared to existing ones.
26. Can we use tools that are on the market to build the new solution?
Yes, you can definitely use existing tools as long as the solution is something new.
27. In a case where a selected city in the Buyers Group is already a customer of the supplier in the fields of energy or mobility, does this constitute a conflict of interest?
No, AI4Cities is only looking for new innovative solutions not yet available in the market, which means the product is by definition not yet provided to any of the Buyers Group members. Moreover, the reviewers are impartial and the evaluation process is designed to avoid conflict of interest situations.
28. Can you tell us if our idea fulfills your needs and should we submit a tender?
Unfortunately, we are not able to comment on any solutions or technologies while the call is open.
29. When is it expected to have the Framework Agreement signed?
The framework agreement will be signed when the selection of the awarded suppliers is confirmed before the start of Phase 1.
30. Should a solution have a direct impact on CO2 reduction?
The solution's impact on CO2 reduction doesn't need to be direct. As long as you are able to show that your solution reduces CO2 emissions and explain how it reduces them, it is acceptable.
31. The Framework Agreement stipulates: “17.8 The Supplier must compensate the Procurers if they are held liable by the EU for damage sustained as a result of the implementation of the Framework Agreement or a Specific Contract (or because it was not implemented properly).”Could you please specify to what kind of situation this refers to?
AI4Cities, as a project, cannot and should not try to define in what way a supplier of a solution (which we do not even know what it will be and how it will be implemented) may be liable. It is up to the supplier to foresee the potential impact, in terms of legal risks, that the prototyping of their solution and its deployment in the city pilots may bring them. The legal risks should be understood in the context of the normal rule of law and compliance with EU and National level laws and regulations.
32. Do the subcontractors for all three phases have to be identified now?
It is essential to indicate which parts of the solution will be subcontracted (Form A) and how the budgets will be divided between the consortium and subcontractors (Form F). You can already name the subcontractors for future phases if you know them, but this is not mandatory. However, keep in mind that the offer should convincingly show how the full solution could be developed and it will be evaluated based on that. No essential part of the solution or project management can be subcontracted.
33. Do subcontractors have to list their pre-existing rights as well?
The subcontrators enter into an agreement with you and their IPRs are part of that agreement.
34. Is it possible to formulate adjustment suggestions on the AI4Cities PCP framework agreement in the current tendering phase?
In open procedure type procurements, tender specifications and model contracts (e.g. the framework agreement) are not negotiable. The agreement is the basic PCP Framework Agreement model required by the EC.
35. Is it be possible that the members of the consortium submit the invoices separately?
Only the lead tenderer can submit the invoice.
1. Do you prefer to have all the information inserted in the designated forms in Word and Excel or can we enter in the Form for instance "see appendix XX" which refers to another document that we can style as we please and insert, for example, images?
All the information has to be inserted into the designated forms, but images can be used in the forms. Suppliers are not allowed to send unrequired appendices.
2. Can all needed appendices and forms be submitted through one (Word) file instead or do they have to be submitted separately?
The documents have to be submitted separately, because they could be evaluated by different people. They have to be in PDF-format, but not scanned. The search function doesn't work in the scanned documents.
3.What does Form A, Section 2.1 refer to? Does it refer only to the subcontractor that will be involved in Phase 1?
It refers to all three phases, as well as the prices in Form F.
4.The RFT document stats that documents must be either electronically signed or in “blue ink” and that no scanned PDFs should be attached. When signing them electronically, is it possiible to also out put a sign and stamp in black ink inside the document where required?
As long as the document is electronically signed with a service which conforms to EU legislation (is legally binding), it is acceptable. Please note that all separate documents have to be signed. After the digital signature has been added, the document may not be altered, combined or otherwise modified.
5. For electronic signature, do you mean “digital signature”, that is in “.p7m” format?
Electronic signing means any legally binding electronic signature (for example: RightSignature, DocuSign, eSign etc). Digital signatures would relate to emails and/or other electronic certificates, not necessarily related to electronically signed documents.
6. When uploading each form through the “AI4Cities” web page, is it necessary to upload them all one by one?
Yes, you need to upload each form separately, so that every form is a single document.
7. Regarding Form A, section 5 subcontractor declaration: Is it necessary that a subcontractor, who provides a pre-defined and delimited specific task in a contract, receives unlimited access to the full proposal?
The subcontractor has made an agreement with you and they should be aware of the topics which concern their work and responsibilities.
8. Regarding Form B Exclusion Criteria, is a separate form from each consortium member required?
Yes, for clarity please submit a separate form from each consortium member.
9. If a company has not commited any of the offences, the answer to the question in Form B, Part B, Item A3, should be yes. Is that correct?
That is correct
10. In Form D, Question D4 is "Does it involve tracking of participants?" To what kind of tracking does this question refer to?
The question refers to GDPR. The solution has to be GDPR compliant regardless of the purpose of the tracking.
11. In Form E section 3, FR1.1, FR2.1, FR3.1, NFR1.1 are already included in the Executive summary request. Should we provide the same information twice within this form or are we expected to elaborate them in different levels of detail?
The Executive summary is an abstract of the whole solution and project. In the sub-sections of form E more in depth descriptions should be given.
12. Where should we provide the info in the forms?
The forms are in the Word format and you can fill in the information after/below the questions. Please upload the forms in PDF format and add your company name/acronym in the file name.
13. Form D, Section B: does this also apply to subcontractors or only for the tenderer?
In the beginning of the form D are the following instructions: 1. This form should be submitted by the Tenderer or the Lead Tenderer in the case of a consortium. 2. In the case of this Tender being submitted by a consortium, these compliance criteria will be applied to the consortium as a whole. 3. Responses to these questions will be assessed as pass/fail. Only those bids achieving a “pass” will be considered for further evaluation.
14. Form C requests "short CVs" for team members- is this meant to be a standard resume/cv for the individuals, or is it expected to be a narrative paragraph/biography of team members, highlighting why they are relevant to the project?
Please select the CV format which best describes your core team members and their expertise.
15. Is there a minimum and/or maximum page limit for Form E?
There are no minimum page limits. The maximum page limits are mentioned in Tender Document 1, Appendix 7. For Form E the max page limit is 30 pages in Phase 1.
16. In addition to the confirmation that we have an appropriate insurance level for AI4Cities, what is the extra information that you need to know on the different kinds of insurances?
We are looking for a short clarification if there are any special risks related to the solution and if there are any insurances related to that. We are not expecting a list of all insurances you have.
17. Can the different forms be signed digitally and uploaded together as one PDF? Or do you want them to signed manually and upload the scanned document?
The Forms can be signed digitally, but please upload every Form as a separate document, not together as one PDF.
Also, we do not accept scanned PDFs or other scanned documents.
18. What does the following in Form_D mean: "The Tenderer declares [...] the total value of products offered in each Phase will be less than 50 % of the total value of the framework agreement. "?
The PCP is for R&D development so at least 50% of the cost must be personnel cost (=work). In this context, the 'products' means the solution and the equipment related to that. You can’t produce the solutions except for the piloting purposes.
19. Is it possible to address Germany and Switzerland courts instead of the District Court of Helsinki (on Form_A)?
Unfortunately not. We are following the law of Finland, because the lead tenderer Forum Virium Helsinki is based in Finland.
1. How is the competition being managed?
The competition is being run by a Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) process which is a special government procedure for procuring research and development for new innovative services that are not yet commercially available. More information on PCP and its benefits for both government and suppliers can be found in this presentation.
2. How many lots are there?
There are two lots: mobility (lot 1) and energy (lot 2).
3. What is the indicative timeline of this PCP competition?
This is the indicative timeline (subject to variations):
Phase 0: Open Market Consultation - From April to September 2020
Request for tenders - From December to February 2021
Phase 1: Solution Design phase - Contractors will have 4 months to work on it, from April to July 2021
Phase 2: Prototyping phase - Contractors will have 3 months to work on it, from September to November 2021
Phase 3: Prototype testing phase - Contractors will have 6 months to work on it, from February to July 2022
4. How many contractors will be selected?
LOT 1 - Mobility (numbers are still indicative)
Phase 1: A minimum of 20 suppliers will be contracted
Phase 2: Out of the initial 20, a minimum of 10 suppliers will be selected for phase 2
Phase 3: Out of the 10 suppliers of the previous phase, a minimum of 3 suppliers will be selected for phase 3
LOT 2 - Energy (numbers are still indicative)
Phase 1: A minimum of 20 suppliers will be contracted
Phase 2: Out of the initial 20, a minimum of 10 suppliers will be selected for phase 2
Phase 3: Out of the 10 suppliers of the previous phase, a minimum of 3 suppliers will be selected for phase 3
5. What is the operations budget?
The total budget is 6.6M€, with 4.67M€ going to the suppliers and the rest for the operations.
6. How much money is available?
The total funding amount to be divided among the selected suppliers throughout the whole pre-commercial procurement process is 4.6 million euros.
Phase 1: Total amount of 1,600,000 euros (800,000 euros per lot). Each funded contractor will receive a maximum of 40,000 euros.
Phase 2: Total amount of 1,600,000 euros (800,000 euros per lot). Each funded contractor will receive a maximum of 80,000 euros.
Phase 3: Total amount of 1,466,622 euros (733,311 euros per lot). Each funded contractor will receive a maximum of 244,437 euros.
7. What criteria will be used to select contractors?
The criteria can be found in Tender Document 1, section 4 and in Tender Document 2. The criteria list for Phases 2 and 3 can be subject to change. The final list of criteria for these phases will be provided with the call-off documentation.
8. What kind of actor can make an offer?
The PCP is open to all operators on equal terms, regardless of the size, geographical location or governance structure. There is, however, a place of performance requirement that they must perform a predefined minimum percentage of the contracted R&D services in EU Member States or Horizon 2020 associated countries.
9. Can partners be added or consortia be changed between phases?
Phase 2 suppliers will be selected from the successful Phase 1 pool of suppliers. Phase 3 suppliers will be selected from the successful Phase 2. It is a closed process and no one can join in-between phases. However, suppliers can add subcontracts in-between phases.
10. Will the projects need to have an R&D partner, like e.g. a university or Sintef? Will that be beneficial or advised?
A supplier can apply solely without any consortium. It is totally up to the supplier whether they want to have a partner or not.
11. Should teams be formed only by technology partners or are companies with urban planning and product development expertise welcome? In that case, should they apply as one team or should the two companies send separate applications?
A consortium needs to send only one application. Any consortium should have a proposal for the full solution and the roles of the partner must be explained in the tender. There is no maximum consortium size, but there is a maximum available budget.
12. Are there any advantages to applying as a team/consortium?
There are no advantages or disadvantages between one tender or a consortium. It all depends on the team's capabilities and knowledge and how well it can execute the plan.
13. In which stage of the project do you actually collect the ideas from the suppliers? Do you do it during seminars? Or via email?
The ideas and feedback are collected during the open market consultation period until the end of September in webinars, seminars and via emails. You can send an email to email@example.com. All kinds of comments are welcome.
14. Do suppliers need to share anything with each other?
It is a competitive process. Suppliers work in parallel on their own solution and do not need to share any information. In other words, every supplier must answer all requirements fully: an all-inclusive solution is needed from each partner or consortium. After the end of the AI4Cities project, from 2022 onwards, suppliers are naturally welcome to join forces and create spin-offs.
15. Should a proposal list all the sub-challenges it can solve?
Your solution can touch one or multiple challenges. It can be an advantage to addres mulitple challenges, but your idea can be also succesful if it only solves one sub-challenge effectively.
16. Can you give feedback to whether a solution is suitable for the call?
While the call is open we are not allowed to comment or give feedback for any ideas.
17. If the tender is accepted, when is the funding provided: before or after the phases of the Pre-Commercial Procurement?
The payment schedule can be found in Tender Document 1, section 5.8.. Payments corresponding to each PCP phase will be subject to the satisfactory completion of the deliverables and milestones for that phase.
18. If a supplier doesn’t advance to the next round, but believes his/her solution has great potential, can the supplier go forward on its own budget?
Yes, of course. All PCP suppliers entering Phase 1,are incentivised to further pursue their solutions development even if dropping out of the PCP process. We will be happy then to consider further collaboration outside the PCP, if possible.
19. If a performance is unsatisfactory by the end of Phase 1, will we not be paid?
Yes. Keep in mind that an unsatisfactory performance means you have not completed the steps expected in Phase 1, which would mean you have not submitted the solution technical specifications and prototype development plan.
20. What if I complete all expected steps in Phase1 and submit the technical solution, but it is not enough to pass to Phase 2. Do I get paid in that scenario?
In that case you would be considered to have had a satisfactory performance and get paid for the Phase 1 activities.
21. In some sub-challenges AI is only a minor component in the solution needed. Will the PCP focus on the AI part or on the whole solution?
We will fund the overall solutions.
22. One of the benefits of a PCP is that "risks and benefits are shared". What benefits do you mean exactly?
Benefits for procurers are, for example, royalty free access rights to use the end result of the process. Whereas, benefits for suppliers include getting funding and clear set of requirements / wishes from the partnering cities. A pool of cities is made available to test the prototypes and obtain a proof-of-concept. Through the Preferred Partners, a large potential group of buyers can be reached after the solution has been commercialised. Companies have the right to commercialise the IPR and this is in fact expected.
23. When and where will the prototypes be tested?
The developed prototypes will be tested in PCP phase 3. Test sites will be available in all of the buyers group member cities.
24. What TRL level is expected in the end of the Phase 3?
There is no strict rule for Technical Readiness Levels (TRL), but the solution can be up to TRL 7 (System prototype demonstration in operational environment) in the end of Phase 3. The idea of the PCP is not to commercialise the solutions (TRL 8 or TRL 9).
25. Will the PCP be followed by a procurement process after Phase 4? Or it is a standalone process not necessarily followed by a scale-up project. What is the long term vision?
The Buyers Group will produce a joint procurement action plan together with our Preferred Partners. The realisation of a PPI (Public Procurement of Innovation) will be likely, although the timing will depend on the instruments available at the time. Although successful AI4Cities suppliers will have a clear advantage when applying to the PPI, it will be open to all. Also, it is very likely that other procurement spin-offs will be done based on the AI4Cities results.
26. Are impact assessment tools (e,g, TNO's Urban Strategy) eligible although these are not implemented directly in public space?
The implementation of the solutions can be also indirect as long as they are utilising AI and they reduce CO2 emissions in energy or mobility domains in the cities.
27. If, after phase 1, we conclude that the data is not good enough for the goal that we have set, is it possible to withdraw yourself after a phase? (Of course in good consultation)
Yes, it is possible to withdraw after a phase. Generally it is possible to proceed to the next phase, only if you have passed the previous phase successfully.
28. What kind of time investment do you expect for the different phases? Is it necessary that a group is working on this project full-time or is this open for the company which is executing the tender?
The company will estimate the resources needed to execute the R&D work and this will be reflected in the tender. The idea is not that the funding will cover all the cost and expenses. There is no specified minimum amount of co-financing for the suppliers. However, we do expect companies to put in their own resources as well. It is up to the company itself to estimate how many persons are needed to work with the project, so as to accomplish the goals in the set time.
29. If we address several sub-challenges in the application for the tender, do we then have to implement all of them in the pilot phase or can we co-create and select in detail in the design phase?
You should have a vision in which sub-challenges your solution is addressed. If you are not able to fulfill your promises it can be a disadvantage in the next phases.
30. Is there any value difference if the tenderer is a single company or a consortium? If we go for a consortium, do you need a formal aggregation or a declaration to aggregate or is it just a joint submission?
There is no value difference between a single company or a consortium and the consortium shares the maximum budget.
The members of the consortium are presented in the Form A and a Lead Tenderer is responsible on behalf of the consortium.
31. Will price be given a lot of weight in the tender?
The weight of price is 10% of the total score (as mentioned in Tender Document 1).
32. The selection criteria refer to products or services ‘suitable for production or supply in quantity and to quality standards defined by the procurers.’ Where are these quality standards of the procurers described?
These standards will be specified in Phase 3 call-off documents. In the Phase 1 the we are focused on the solution design and the idea.
1. If the tender is accepted, when the funding is provided: before or after the phases of the Pre-Commercial Procurement?
Payments corresponding to each Pre-Commercial Procurement phase will be subject to the satisfactory completion of the deliverables and milestones for that phase. Payment schedule can be found in Tender Document 1, section 5.8.
2. Is the approval of the European Commission needed for the payments for the selected suppliers?
No. As the Leading Procurer Forum Virium Helsinki manages the budget.
3. What happens to the unused budget if fewer suppliers than planned participate or get awarded a contract?
The maximum budgets per supplier per phasecannot be increased. If there is left-over budget from a Phase, it will be taken to the next phase and used to possibly sign a contract with an additional supplier.
4. In a case of a consortium, what will be the invoices payment flow?
The Lead tenderer is paid by the Lead Procurer and then the Lead tenderer pays the other members.
5. During the preparations of the Phase 1 proposal we need to estimate budgets for Phase 2 and 3. Can we still change these estimates in it later stages?
Yes. When submitting the offer by 28 February 2021, Phase 2 and Phase 3 budgets are indicative. When you passed Phases 1 and 2 successfully and you submit the offer for the Phase 3, you put in a final offer. However, note that unit prices are binding throughout the total duration of the Framework Agreement. Also note that the maximum budgets per phase per supplier cannot be increased.
6. Is the approval of the European Commission needed for the payments for the selected suppliers?
No. As the Leading Procurer Forum Virium Helsinki manages the budget.
7. The budget per supplier looks an issue. Our products are not cheap and we would struggle to supply a complete system for less than €360k. Is this amount flexible?
No, the maximum budget per supplier per phase is fixed in this financing instrument (Pre-commercial Procurement), and therefore there is no room for negotiation. Participating successfully in all three Phases enables the maximum budget per consortium, and exceeds €360k. AI4Cities project offers financial support for companies' R&D, but it is expected that the Suppliers invest their own money into developing the solutions. Note that leasing some equipment is allowed.
8. In case the payment schedule is delayed by the Lead Procurer whereas the supplier has completed his mission, are there any financial interests?
9. In case of a consortium: is funding available per 'project' or per partner per project?
The funding is for the consortium and the members of the consortium will share the budget.
10. Is there a maximum hourly rate?
There is no maximum hourly rate, but the buyers group will consider how they will get the best value for the money and the price is one of the evaluation criteria.
11. How the selected suppliers will report their self-financing?
We will publish a reporting form as a part of the tender documents.
12. Which is the % of funding of the cost incurred in the performance of AI4Cities projects? It was mentioned that we need to co-invest.
It depends on the case and there are no recommendations.
13. The Buyers Group only funds R&D work. What is considered R&D work?
R&D work under PCP encompasses the solution 'Design', (Phase 1) the solution' Prototyping' (Phase 2) and the solution 'Testing' (Phase 3).
14. At least 50% of the costs have to be R&D; what are the other types of cost that are eligible?
Eligible costs are not comprehensively defined, but they can be, for example, software or hardware costs, when these are needed for confirming and piloting the solution; licence costs; data costs; or travel costs. Note that personnel costs for business development are not R&D expenses.
15. The solutions need to be integrated into city systems that are new to suppliers. Is getting to understand these systems regarded as an R&D expense?
Yes, studying the systems where the solutions are planned to be integrated are eligible costs.
16. Can the tenderer get funding from other public sources?
Tenders that receive public funding from other sources will be excluded if this leads to double public financing or an accumulation of different types of public financing that is not permitted by EU legislation, including EU state aid rules.
17. Does the consortium need to report accounting (eg. timesheets and expenses reports) or is it going to be a direct /lump sum contract?
The supplier will get compensation only for the expenses and we are going to ask for a report of the expenses. The suppliers have to be prepared to present accounting e.g. in the audit.
18. Will you buy the whitebox solution, with IP rights? Or the Blackbox solution (licenses)?
We are not buying any solutions. In a PCP, the Buyers Group is only funding the R&D work and has access on a royalty-free basis. There can be separate procurement processes like PPI (Public Procurement of Innovation) or a normal procurement after the PCP.
19. Do tenderers need to provide a binding price for their solution?
Yes, we are asking prices which are binding during the PCP from Phase 1 to Phase 3.
20. Is the PCP funding de minimis aid?
No, the funding comes directly from the Commission and therefore it is not de minimis aid.
21. How is the financial compensation assessed and calculated?
The formula is presented in Tender Document 1 in section 3.3, and in Appendix 4.
22. Are virtual prices to be mentioned per each line item, or is it allowed to only quote a total virtual price per phase in form F?
No, the prices have to be specified because they are binding in each phase.
23. What is the difference between Actual and Virtual prices?
The Actual price is the price for the Buyers Group and it does not include IPRs. The Virtual price is so called market price with IPRs included.
We are evaluating only the Actual price.
24. Is there any required precentage for material and equipment cost?
The most of the R&D cost should be personnel cost but you can include some materials, equipment or related cost included in R&D if it is necessary for the implementation of the solution. There is no exact percentage.
25. Why can we not find the labour price used for R&D, or the limit for the price per hour?
There are no pre-defined prices available, because you are making the bid and and telling us how much your project will cost. The price of your project is one of the awards criteria.
26. The Virtual price will exceed the amount of €40,000 for phase 1. is that OK or should both the Virtual and the Actual price be below €40 000?
Virtual price is the market price, which means the price including IPRs, ownership of results and your profits. It depends on the product but that price can be over 40,000€.
27. Are we allowed to allocate indirect costs in the financial section?
There is no indirect cost in PCP.
1. How to deal with the upcoming technical developments: 1.5 years is a long time for product development - what if certain technologies become obsolete?
After each phase of the pre-commercial procurement, requirements for the next phase will be refined in a so-called call-off. This way, the technological developments will be taken into consideration. Also, per phase new subcontractors can be added to the consortium if needed.
2. Which of the participating EU countries and cities in the AI4Cities have such C-ITS platform and V2X roadside infrastructures readily available?
They are not standards in the cities or countries and you can check the conditions in different countries here https://www.c-roads.eu/
3. Is there any standards e.g. MIMs (Minimum Inter-operatability Mechanisms) which the suppliers should use?
No, the suppliers can use any standards they would like to use, as long as they enable the interoperability and scalability of the solutions (in the future) and solutions can communicate with existing and new systems of the cities.
4. How do you envision Autonomous & Adaptive AI to be explainable (and transparent) at the same time? Doesn't the requirement of explainability (and transparency) impose an upper bound on the rate of adaptability (and autonomy) of the AI?
It is of course hard (or even impossible) to make AI at same time both completely autonomous and adaptive and completely transparent. In this project we are not requiring complete autonomy, adaptivity or transparency, but instead we are evaluating solutions based on how close they are at achieving them. So there is no upper boundary for autonomy or adaptivity. It is up to the companies to balance these qualities as they see best. For tips about trustworthy and transparent AI, you can check a self-assesment list by ALTAI.
5. Are you looking for open-source algorithms?
It's beneficial if the algorithms are open source but it's not mandatory. We are asking you to explain your algorithms but we are not asking to see the code. In Phase 1 we are foremost focusing on the ideas of the solutions and AI. The most important thing is that it solves the problem and brings added value to the solution.
6. What if the algorithm is open (i.e., published), but the implementation is proprietary? Will you define some test suites and scores?
In Phase 1 we are mostly focusing on evaluating the idea of the solution and the AI. We are not expecting to see or test the actual code. Instead we are looking for a convincing explanation of how the algorithm works. In Phase 3 the solution will be piloted in a real location.
7. Can we rely on other datasets than the one presented in this website?
Yes, you can also use other data sets and the lists on the website are not exhaustive. You can also send us an inquiry by email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in some data set and we can see if we can make that data available. You can also use data you provide yourself. Not all data needs to be open data.
8. What is the accepted minimum and maximum TRL of the solutions in Phase 1?
There is no exact minimum or maximum TRL levels, but in general we can say that because the idea of PCP is not to create full commercial applications, the target could be TRL 7 (The demonstration system: Operating in an operational environment at pre-commercial scale).
9. High impact solutions often require customisation with a local environment, for example to access complementary sources of data. How should suppliers account for this local contextualisation/content in phase 1 versus focus on shaping "city agnostic" solutions?
One of the purposes of the Phase 1 is to study the conditions in the cities and e.g. estimate the possibilities for pilotings. In Phases 2 and 3 will also be evaluating the scalability of the solutions. It is up to the companies to decide how the balance impact and scalability.
10. Could you explain more about Fair AI or My Data?
This refers to the Functional Requirement 2.5: The solution is following the guidelines of trustworthy AI and the AI can be audited by independent third parties. (For more about trustworthy AI, see e.g.: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/assessment-list-trustworthy-artificial-intelligence-altai-self-assessment.)
11. Solutions focusing on district heating have to be piloted during the heating season. Assuming that ends in March, these solutions could only be tested for two months. How flexible are the dates for Phase 3?
The starting and ending dates for Phase 3 are not flexible, but we will try to arrange the most suitable dates for piloting during that period. It's worth reminding that the length of the heating season can vary depending on the piloting location, for example in Helsinki the heating season lasts at least until the end of April.
12. Are there any specifications for the possible pilot sites (e.g. buildings) on which the solutions will be tested?
Some cities (e.g. Amsterdam, Copenhagen) have predefined some possible test sites, but the piloting sites will be decided before Phase 3 when we see what kind of solutions will pass to the piloting phase.
(*) The Questions and Answers presented have been drafted on the basis of procurement legislation and practices across Europe. However, no legal guarantee can be given by the authors. The authors do not take any liability whatsoever for the use of the information provided.