On September 4, 2020, the European Parliament (EP) named two consortia and Microsoft Belgium as the three awardees of a contract for a “Live Speech to Text and Machine Translation Tool for 24 Languages.”
The goal, “to acquire a licence for a tool that is able to automatically transcribe and translate parliamentary multilingual debates in real time.” Estimated total contract value is EUR 2.75m (USD 3.25m).
The three awardees were selected and ranked under a so-called “innovation partnership procurement procedure” that comprises two steps. First, exclusion and selection, where three candidates were chosen and admitted into the second step, the award. The EP ranked the three best tenderers based on the following criteria:
- Quality of the proposed solution – 35 points
- Quality of the IT aspects and technical support offered – 30 points
- Quality of the project management – 15 points
- Quality of the live demonstration – 20 points
- Price – 50 points
Ranked first was the consortium led by Cedat85, with Bertin IT and SDL; contract value: EUR 1.39m (USD 1.64m). Cedat85’s Head International Business, Stefano Aldrovandi, told Slator, “The platform, language models, and the transcription technology will be provided by Cedat85, Bertin IT will provide language models and features requested by the EP, SDL will provide everything related to translation solutions.”
Ranked second was the Translated-led consortium, with Fondazione Bruno Kessler and PerVoice; value: EUR 1.63 (USD 1.92m). Translated had previously announced its selection in a July 31, 2020 press release and interview with Slator.
Microsoft N.V. (Belgium) was ranked third; value: EUR 2.24m (USD 2.64m).
According to the award notice, all three contractors will “develop a prototype of the tool” and the EP will then run the process in three stages, evaluating prototypes at the end of the first stage. Next, “the contractor whose prototype performs best in the evaluation will continue the work in stages 2: integration of nine languages and 3: integration of five languages of this innovation partnership. The contracts of non-retained contractors will be terminated.”
The estimated total contract value of EUR 2.75m, therefore, was calculated from the total amount of stage 1 “plus the highest price proposed by a successful tenderer covering stages 2 and 3.”
A source close to the matter explained that the EP capped the maximum amount to be paid per stage at EUR 1m; and, at stage 1, that amount would have to be divided across the three players (i.e., a maximum of EUR 333,000 each).
As only one player will make it past the initial phase and onto stages 2 and 3, that player will receive up to an additional EUR 1m maximum per stage, computed based on the player’s given contract value.
As previously mentioned, players will deliver their prototypes within 12 months to the EP, which will then award the full contract to the best-performing tool provider for the next two years.