Defence deals to be more open to small businesses

14 January 2011
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14 January 2011 | Angeline Albert

UK minister Peter Luff this week told SMEs the government will harness their talent by making its buying process more accessible to them.

Speaking to SMEs at a Centre for DefenceEnterprise (CDE) conference on 13 January, the minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology said procurement improvements were needed if SMEs are going to play a larger role in providing defence equipment.

Luff said the government would look to involve SMEs more in the development of certification standards and also help them access large contracts, which may normally be given to bigger, main contractors.  

Luff also urged prime contractors to make greater use of the innovation and talent SMEs can provide. He said main contractors should “keep an open mind to what SMEs may be able to bring by way of innovation, value for money and effectiveness”.   

He added: “I don’t think anyone can contest that the government needs to smarten up its procurement processes. Adopting a standard pre-qualification questionnaire and standard templates for lower value requirements, are important steps in the right direction.”

Luff said one area of improvement was the need to ensure its “requirements are actually seen by those with interests in supplying” to defence technologies.

The CDE is the first point of contact for anyone with a defence innovation and acts as a gateway between potential suppliers and the Ministry of Defence.

Following the Strategic Defence and Security Review, the government launched a consultation earlier this month on how it should acquire equipment, support and technology for UK defence, including how it can engage better with SMEs. The consultation ends in March.

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