Private: Innovation In Procurement Toolkit
Private: Guide To Market Engagement

Publishing and Advertising


What is it?


Any market engagement notice (PIN, ITT) must be published on OJEU and on national contract portals, to ensure transparency and fairness in the procurement process. However this in itself is not sufficient to generate widespread interest from the market, and is particularly ineffective in reaching new market entrants and smaller, innovative suppliers. In addition to publishing in line with legal requirements, procurements should be accompanied by an advertising campaign to ensure that suppliers are aware of and engage with the procurement process.

Why does it matter?


  • Publishing and advertising opportunities widely helps drive competition in the market by making sure everyone has an opportunity to engage and bid.
  • Only 6% of innovative suppliers in our survey said it was easy to identify contract opportunities with London borough, with 68% claiming it was either difficult or very difficult. Advertising appropriately helps increase visibility to innovative suppliers who do not monitor traditional market engagement channels, and are therefore unlikely to bid for contracts published on traditional channels.
  • Advertising an opportunity widely helps to convey that the process is truly open and competitive. In our survey, 62% of suppliers stated that the perception that the opportunity is already ‘wrapped up’ by another supplier deterred them from bidding for contracts they were able to deliver, and 54% were deterred by the perception that the authority will extend the contract with its current supplier.

When should you do it?


To maximise market engagement, you should aim to keep suppliers on the procurement journey with you: from the point at which you identify a technology need, to the point of awarding a contract. This means that you can start advertising your business needs and intent via informal channels far in advance of formally publishing a Prior Information Notice (PIN). It is important to continue publishing information and communicating with the market at every milestone in the journey, up until the the deadline for tenders receipt. After a contract has been awarded, this should also be published formally and announced via media channels.

Case Study: App4IR

In 2014, the New Zeeland government department launched a design competition for a mobile app for Inland Revenue. The widespread participation and success of the competition was largely due to the marketing campaign aimed at attracting technology startups. The opportunity was advertised via local press and radio, and social media. A webpage was set up for startups to register their interest, and reminders of tender deadlines were shared on Reddit threads. The Twitter hashtag #app4ir generated a lot of engagement – participants shared mockups at each stage with the hashtag. Investors, tech networks and creative agencies responded with comments via Twitter. The project overview and outcomes were published via the NZ Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Youtube channel.

How should you do it?


What to Publish?

  • Service Needs: it is good practice to continually communicate with the market via the channels outlined below to describe your user and service needs. This does not necessarily have to be done in advance of a procurement but rather to invite general feedback and ideas from the market and other local authorities, and extend an invitation to engage around innovation. Twitter and blogging are good mediums for regularly signalling your user and service needs and inviting discussion.
  • Digital Commissioning Pipeline: Publishing information about your digital pipeline and roadmap is not a legal requirement. However, it helps suppliers to identify when the best time is to engage with you as a buyer. It also facilitates opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing between boroughs through the identification of similar projects. We advise sharing projects in your digital pipeline on [LocalGov Digital Pipeline](https://pipeline.localgov.digital/) and the [Thirty3](https://thirty3.london/) platform.
  • Prior Information Notices, Invitations To Tender & Contract Award Notices: As soon as the decision has been made to go to tender for a product or service, you should publish a Prior Information Notice on OJEU and contract portals, to inform the market of your intentions. ITT’s and Contract Award Notices should also be published via these formal channels. Crucially, these publications should also be widely advertised using the channels listed below.

Where to Publish?

Publishing solely through contract portals and through your social media channel will not have the desired reach, although these still remain important things to do (in particular you should be posting on Twitter and LinkedIn). To reach innovative suppliers, it is important to reach out to them via the networks that they actually use and communicate to them in novel ways. As one of the survey respondents stated:

“If the UK public sector is serious about engaging with innovative SMEs it needs to be clear with objectives and reach out to professional organisations that represent/engage with SMEs.”

Below we have put together a table of networks, media channels, and ecosystem organisations that you can reach out to help advertise your opportunity and engage with the startup market. There are many different advertising media you can utilise from writing an opinion piece, to talking on a podcast, to getting a newsletter shoutout.

Computer Business Review

CBR occasionally publishes news articles about public sector technology tenders. They have covered tenders from UK housing associations, Transport for London, HM Land Registry, and the Environment Agency.

New Statesman Tech

The New Statesman published a regular series called ‘The Biggest GovTech Deals of The Week’, which features public sector PINs, tenders and awards on a weekly basis.

PUBLIC Newsletter & Blog

The PUBLIC newsletter regularly announces tender opportunities to startups within its ecosystem. Additionally, the blog runs a monthly feature piece, ‘GovTech in Focus’, highlighting the top public sector technology tenders and awards of the month.

[insert table here]

Additional Resources