Over 380 small to medium sized businesses yesterday engaged with some of the largest public sector buying organisations to access the estimated €20bn all-island public procurement market.
The Meet the Buyer event hosted by InterTradeIreland in partnership with the National Procurement Service, Enterprise Ireland, CPD, Invest NI and the Strategic Investment Board, was held yesterday in Athlone, Co Westmeath.
Designed to raise awareness and understanding of the public procurement market, SMEs gained access to key buyers such as the HSE, An Post, the National Procurement Service, An Garda Siochána and Waterways Ireland among others.
SMEs discovered how the public procurement process works and the opportunities available, while specialists were on hand to help them refine their bid, find out about the latest procurement trends — such as new framework agreements and how they could become more strategic to form joint ventures and consortia to win key contracts.
The main development agencies from across the island were on hand to inform companies about funding opportunities and supports available.
Despite government spending cuts, the all-island public procurement market still provides a new opportunity for many SMEs and is worth up to €20bn annually.
Speaking at the event Brian Hayes, public service reform minister, said the event was a sign of joined-up thinking in government.
“It is heartening to see over 380 SMEs present today and underscores the demand for such an undertaking.
“Equally, it is encouraging to see that such a large number of public service organisations recognise this need.
“This event will provide a valuable opportunity for SMEs to gain useful insight into the manner of the public procurement process. Similarly, buyers can gain an appreciation of what SMEs can offer to the public sector.”
lTwo further events are planned for later in the year and will be held in Cookstown, on Sept 27, and Kilkenny, on Nov 8. Any SMEs interested in attending either event should register their interest at www.intertradeireland.com/meet-the-buyer
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