Over 550 people attended a Supplier Engagement event organised by InterTradeIreland at the Glenavon House Hotel, Cookstown this week. The purpose of the event was to provide local businesses with practical insight and increased knowledge of how public procurement works.
Businesses and suppliers had the opportunity to meet with procurement personnel from the 11 councils in Northern Ireland and five border councils of Ireland, representatives from the Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) in Northern Ireland and the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) in Ireland.
Participants were also provided with a practical insight into what the public sector require from them, including upcoming procurement opportunities. They also attended information sessions on key topics such as ‘Selling to Local Government’ ‘Brexit’, and ‘How to create that winning Tender’.
The Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Kim Ashton, spoke at the event to emphasise the Council’s commitment to economic growth. She said: Today’s event is vitally important for local businesses as it allows them to meet public sector buyers, understand more about the requirements of supplying the public sector, expand contacts, enhance their procurement capacity, and, ultimately, to be more effective in securing business.
“As a council, we are particularly aware that the current economic environment is a challenging one and so every initiative which can give our local businesses a competitive advantage is critical.”
Thomas Hunter McGowan, Chief Executive of InterTradeIreland added: “The high turnout at the event is very encouraging and proves that there is an appetite from local SMEs to engage in tendering. SMEs are still seeing big challenges in public procurement with only a relatively small percentage of firms having bid on contracts over the last year. Feedback from firms shows that lack of knowledge of opportunities and processes, along with bureaucracy, are the main reasons they are reluctant, so our event today is a vitally important piece in the puzzle towards helping educate these firms.”
“We recognise that there is a backdrop of decreasing public sector spending but the market still represents a huge and much under exploited opportunity, with an all-island value at over £10 billion. Success locally can also be a stepping stone to other markets with even more significant public purchasing power such as GB and Europe.”