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.
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.
What to Publish?
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.
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