More than 350 small businesses are expected to converge on the Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny on Thursday, November 8 for the final InterTradeIreland ‘Meet the Buyer’ event in a series of three held nationwide.
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 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 Invest Northern Ireland, Enterprise 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,” said Margaret.
“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. Similarly, buyers can gain an appreciation of what SMEs can offer the public sector. 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 and welcomes this initiative by InterTradeIreland.”
The Meet the Buyer event in Kilkenny on 8th November is a free event open to SMEs and there is still time to register at www.intertradeireland.com/meet-the-buyer.
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 www.intertradeirelenad.com/public-procurement.