More than 600 local SMEs attended the recent InterTradeIreland Meet the Buyer event in Belfast to find out how they could be better placed to tap into the lucrative public procurement market, which is worth £2.8bn in Northern Ireland and €8.5bn in the south. Both markets continue to offer substantial opportunities for small businesses, despite the decreases in public spending.
Public Procurement: Consortia can open doors
With recent changes to procurement practices by governments North and South, resulting in increasingly larger contracts being issued, delegates heard how it is now more important than ever for companies to consider forming consortia to bid for tenders. This may seem daunting at first, but there is support available.
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Jonathan Bell, who opened the event, emphasised that there are extensive opportunities available through government contracts, highlighting that a significant proportion of these contracts will be awarded to SMEs – a key commitment within the current Programme for Government.
SMEs – an innovative approach
SMEs are well suited to helping public sector buyers find new and innovative solutions. This event presented the perfect opportunity for businesses to better understand buyers’ needs and for local companies to improve their capabilities with regards to the tendering support that is available. It is vital for our economy that we have a truly joined-up approach to make tendering as accessible as possible to businesses of all sizes.
The Meet the Buyer events are oversubscribed every year as they offer firms the unique opportunity to get directly in front of the key buyers from public organisations across the island including CPD in NI and OGP in Ireland, along with the likes of Translink, DRD Roads Service, NI Water, RTÉ, Dublin Airport Authority and ESB Networks.
Support available for complex process
Tendering can be a complex process but more InterTradeIreland supports are in place to help small businesses than ever before so that they can increase their chances of being successful. One example of this is providing access to our dedicated ‘consortia facilitator’ to help companies ‘find’ each other.
Tendering success is encouraging
According to InterTradeIreland’s latest Business Monitor survey, over the last year, of the SMEs active in the public tendering market 31% have bid on a cross-border tender, of those that bid cross border, encouragingly 69% of these were successful. A sign that these opportunities are accessible to all – with the right support.
Global opportunities beckon
With an all-island value of £10 billion, local tendering success can also be a stepping stone to other markets with even more significant public purchasing power, such as GB and Europe. Our Business Monitor figures highlight that there has been a significant increase in those bidding successfully for cross-border tenders, which confirms that this is a route to new business that cannot be ignored.
Meet the Buyer
The event was held in partnership with the Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) in NI; The Office of Government Procurement (OGP) in Ireland, Invest NI, the Strategic Investment Board and Enterprise Ireland.
A range of tendering supports
InterTradeIreland offers the following range of supports:
- Meet the Buyer Events: Access key public sector buyers on the island under one roof.
- Go-2-Tender Workshops: 2 day workshops providing SMEs, whether new to tendering or wanting to enhance their knowledge, with tender skills and insights.
- Consortia Facilitator Service: Providing advice and facilitation to companies looking to form joint bids.
- Tender Apps & Alerts: Automatic updates on the latest tenders direct to your mobile phone through Apple or Android Tender Apps.
- Information & Guides: All the information you need to help you tender more successfully.
For more information www.intertradeireland.com/public-procurement.