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11 June 2014 | Anna Scott
The Scottish Government has pledged £360,000 to help SMEs and third sector businesses bid for public sector contracts.
Smaller companies – which currently hold 46 per cent of the £10 billion worth of public sector contracts in Scotland – will get advice on attracting online trade and transacting electronically, ultimately to increase efficiency in bidding for and fulfilling public sector contracts.
The investment has gone into the Supplier Development Programme, a digital procurement initiative that includes events, training opportunities and a new website. It has come from the government’s Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership.
The government stated the roll out of the programme will supplement existing services provided by Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Ready for Business and the Supplier Development Programme.
Public bodies in Scotland now have a duty to consider how they can better involve SMEs, third sector bodies and supported businesses in procuring public sector contracts, under the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill, passed by the Scottish Parliament in May.
“The support from the Scottish government will allow the Supplier Development Programme to enhance the existing support we provide to SMEs,” said councillor Chris Thompson, chairman of the SDP and of South Lanarkshire Council’s Enterprise Services Committee.
“It will also let us explore new, innovative ways to allow businesses access to public sector contracts via the increased use of digital media and in how the SMEs engage with our colleagues in procurement.”
Enterprise minister Fergus Ewing added: “Working in partnership with the enterprise agencies, local authorities and other public bodies, we are committed to proactively supporting Scottish suppliers and want to help them meet the requirements of public bodies. What’s more, through the Supplier Development Programme we can contribute to the development of digital business skills that can allow Scottish business to compete in the global market.”