EVERY year, the public sector in Scotland spends £14.5 billion.
That is £14.5 billion set aside for goods, works and services that Scottish businesses, including SMEs, social enterprises and supported businesses can provide to public bodies, such as local councils and national organisations.
No business is too small to get a share of public sector spending; even one-person operations can have something to offer.
The problem for many micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is knowing what contracts are on offer by the public sector.
It’s also around understanding how those public bodies buy, advertise and let contracts, which does not follow the traditional route of pitching new business.
But that is exactly what SMEs want: to introduce their business so the public bodies advertising contracts know what they have to offer.
That is where the Supplier Development Programme (SDP) comes in, bringing together local businesses and the public bodies which need them.
The largest public sector procurement event in Scotland will be held on Wednesday, 17 May 2023 at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC).
Unlike many largescale events, Meet the Buyer is free for all types of businesses to attend.
Organised by the Supplier Development Programme – alongside headline partners at The Scottish Government, Scotland Excel, and the UK Department for Transport – the theme for this year’s event is ‘Open for Business’.
This will be the first in-person national Meet the Buyer event since 2019.
There will be exciting speakers and panels on two stages: the Power of Procurement Stage, which will feature procurement in Scotland, and the UK Department for Transport stage, which will feature procurement opportunities for Scottish businesses looking to do business at the UK level.
Ivan McKee MSP, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, is also confirmed to deliver an address on the day, subject to parliamentary business.
Businesses will be able to network face-to-face with buyers about upcoming tenders and projects locally and nationally within Scotland and right across the UK.
In addition, local businesses can meet with larger trade and construction contractors that are connected to public sector projects.
There will be a construction zone dedicated to engaging with Scotland’s supply chains and Community Wealth Building opportunities, championed by hub East Central Scotland and there will also be exhibitions from Scotland’s health boards in Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Ayrshire and Arran, with others to be confirmed.
In an ever-expanding list, several Scottish local authorities are expected to exhibit, as well as regional and national organisations like Scottish Enterprise, Social Security Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, Scottish Procurement Alliance, and Partnership for Housing Scotland.
A full list of exhibitors can be viewed on the SDP website.
Gillian Cameron, programme manager, Supplier Development Programme, said:
“More than 500 people have already registered for Meet the Buyer 2023, and why not? It is a must-attend event for every business based in Scotland.
“Opportunities are so wide-ranging, from long-term contracts to ‘Quick Quote’ contracts worth £50,000 or less for goods and services and potentially up to £2million for (works) construction, that there is something for every participant, no matter the size or speciality of the potential contractor, from cleaners, IT specialists and engineers to photographers and even funeral directors.
“The Supplier Development Programme encourages Scottish SMEs to bid for public sector work. A smaller, more dynamic organisation can be seen as more appealing to public sector bodies than a larger, more bureaucratic company, and our free services help to get ‘tender ready’ for these opportunities.”
Stephen Brannagan, director of Customer and Business Services at Scotland Excel, said:
“Scotland Excel is delighted to be a headline partner for the annual Meet the Buyer event. Our suppliers play a vital role in supporting the local government supply chain, while delivering a sustainable quality service across Scotland’s communities.
“Eighty-one percent of our Scottish suppliers are SMEs, and we recognise the importance of the Meet the Buyer events in engaging with them. Talking with our suppliers, and potential new suppliers at these events, gives us the opportunity to showcase our 70+ frameworks worth more than £2bn to the Scottish economy and gives them the opportunity to ask questions on how they can get involved.”
Businesses of all sizes, especially micro, small, and medium sized businesses and social enterprises are eligible to attend Meet the Buyer 2023 for free, but must register in advance by visiting www.sdpscotland.co.uk.
Notes for editors:
* SDP is a publicly-funded partnership led by Local Authorities, working in conjunction with Scottish Government and other public bodies, to bring Scottish SMEs support in all aspects of tendering. By assisting businesses to become tender ready for public procurement, SDP improves all-round efficiency, sustainability and market potential.
* In Scotland, there is an annual public spend of £14.5billion. SDP Scotland offers free training throughout Scotland to Scottish SMEs, supported businesses and third sector organisations to support and champion them tendering for this work.
* Visit www.sdpscotland.co.uk for more information.
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