SMEs get opportunity to share in €20bn public works market

More than 350 small businesses are expected to converge on the Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny on Thursday 8th November for the final InterTradeIreland ‘Meet the Buyer’ event in a series of three to be held across the island in 2012.

Attendees will have the opportunity to meet and engage with representatives from around 20 of the key buying organisations from Ireland and Northern Ireland. Some of the key buyers confirmed to date are the HSE, Dublin Airport Authority, Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE), Irish Vocational Education Association (IVEA) and An Garda Síochána. The National Procurement Service (Ireland) and Central Procurement Directorate (Northern Ireland) will also be in attendance at the event which will help to demystify the procurement process and highlight opportunities for businesses to compete for significant government contracts, both North and South.

Having already run a number of these events to date, InterTradeIreland is confident that Public Buyers are very keen to meet with potential new suppliers and that the public procurement market is open for business. The event is run in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, Invest Northern Ireland, Central Procurement Directorate (CPD), National Procurement Service and the Strategic Investment Board.

Margaret Hearty, InterTradeIreland Director of Business Programmes and Services, believes that small businesses cannot afford to ignore this opportunity.

“Whilst companies do have to submit formal tenders and understand how the market works, there are a lot of supports out there to help SMEs with this – our own Go2Tender programme for example. Still, for some suppliers, the concept of trading with the Public Sector is an alien one with the processes of tendering and procurement seen as intimidating and bureaucratic. This perception alone can stop businesses, particularly SMEs from competing for potentially lucrative contracts when the reality is that because of their size, they may be best placed to offer flexibility, value and innovative solutions to meet the demands of buyers in the public sector. InterTradeIreland is leading what is the first truly joined-up government approach to tackling the problem of SMEs accessing government contracts as despite significant cuts in spending, public procurement remains a huge and underexploited market for many SMEs, a market currently worth around €20bn across the island. This event will bring suppliers together with representatives from a number of major buying agencies, North and South, giving them the opportunity to engage in one-to-one meetings with buyers and take part in workshops where procurement processes will be explained and upcoming opportunities highlighted. ‘’ she concluded

At the previous InterTradeIreland Meet the Buyer event in Athlone, 95 per cent of buyers surveyed said that they had met with companies that could supply them now or in the future. Mary O’Halloran from the National Procurement Service (NPS) feels that this is reflective of the value of this initiative.

“Despite the very difficult recessionary times that we’re living in, the prize on offer here is substantial – amounting to €20 billion across the island of Ireland covering works, goods and services. It is particularly important that new or inexperienced SMEs are confident enough to tender for public sector contracts. Events such as Meet the Buyer do much to engender such confidence and provide businesses with the opportunity to learn about the mechanics of procurement in the public sector and, more importantly, to meet those directly involved. It is essential that businesses stay alert to developments in their particular markets and other developments in the wider public procurement arena. National Procurement Service (NPS) welcomes the opportunity to talk directly to SME’s at these important events.”

Laura Jackson, Marketing Executive from Asdon, who attended a similar InterTradelreland Meet the Buyer event in Athlone recently, felt that the experience was very valuable to Asdon’s future business prospects. “Asdon provides a wide range of products and business technology services to help clients run their business more efficiently. The event allowed us to meet with a large number of public sector buyers from various industries which allowed us to gain valuable insight into their buying processes and also save time arranging sales meetings. In today’s competitive market identifying new potential customers and having the chance to talk to them about how we can provide our services and solutions to meet their business needs is vital to our company success.”

Further information on ‘Meet the Buyer’ and other InterTradeIreland procurement services including hints and tips, a tender alert app, procurement jargon buster and presentations from earlier workshops are available at