Belfast builds small business bidding skills

4 August 2011

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4 August 2011 | Adam Leach

A procurement programme to help small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) identify and seize bidding opportunities in both the public and private sectors has been launched by Belfast City Council.

The council’s ‘smarter procurement programme’ aims to develop small business’ ability to construct bids in order to tender for contracts more effectively.

Starting in September, the programme will guide small businesses and social enterprises through a five-stage process. First, businesses will complete a self-assessment form to give the council a clear idea of their current ability to compete. Those selected will then attend five half-day workshops, provided by consultancy Envision, designed to develop the necessary skills, which will then be followed up with more targeted workshops focusing on their pitching ability.

The penultimate stage will pair each business up with an expert mentor, who will provide them with support and expertise. And the process will culminate with the SME pitching to a minimum of three, separate buying teams.

The application process is open to small businesses and social enterprises within the Belfast City Council borders that have limited or no experience of public sector procurement. The closing date for submissions is 26 August.

The scheme is part of the authority’s attempt to widen access to public sector contracts to SMEs.

Last month, a similar programme run by the Cabinet Office concluded with a BBC Dragons’ Den-style event, where 12 SMEs were given the opportunity to pitch to a panel of judges and an audience of public sector buyers.

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