With £714 billion being spent on the public sector in the UK in 2014 you may feel that there is plenty of business to go around. However, if you are considering broadening your options or want to look further afield you could consider bidding for tenders across the European Union.
The European Union was created on the basis of it being a single market which includes the free movement of goods, capital, people and services across all member states. In practice this means that a UK company should have an equal chance of winning a tender in a different EU member state as the local companies and there should be no barrier to intra-EU trade. We often hear of dissatisfaction that local contracts in the UK have been awarded to non-local suppliers and so this could be considered the other side of that coin.
While it may seem like it is easy to go for these types of opportunities there are certain things that need to be considered before taking the leap! All the points made by my colleague Gemma on this blog: How SMEs can break into the public sector will apply but there will be other aspects that will need to be considered as well.
Significant planning will need to be done and a strategy will need to be developed to make sure that you are targeting the right markets and giving yourself the best chance of being successful. Aspects that need to be considered include:
- Analysis of your own products and services and how they will fit the markets of the countries you are interested in.
- Analysis of your own company. Do you have the language/logistic capability to work in certain European countries?
- Analysis of market conditions (competitors, prices, currency, market share etc) and how they differ to the UK.
- Consideration of local and national legislation and how that affects your products or services especially if additional costs are incurred due to modifications being needed.
- Analysis of the requirements that have been published and how closely they match what you provide.
- Consideration of additional costs that could be incurred. Harmonised safety and technical standards should mean that accreditations/standards that have been achieved in the UK will be accepted throughout the EU. You can view the standards here: Harmonised standards
How to bid for European contracts
Depending on the size of your company there are several routes that you can go down. Firstly you can look for tenders that closely match your skills and put in bids on your own. If you are a smaller company or looking to take your first step into Europe you may want to consider partnering with other suppliers. The new procurement regulations are designed to make it easier for consortia to bid on public contracts and be considered equally against larger suppliers, enhancing your chances of winning if you choose to go down this route. You may also wish to join the supply chain as sub-contractors of existing suppliers on European contracts. You can find out who is winning contracts by checking contract award notices and can get in touch with winning bidders through the contact details provided.
One European buying organisation that is worth looking out for is the European Commission. They and other EU institutions publish hundreds of tenders a year for things as varied as security services, office supplies and construction related opportunities across Europe. If you are a Tenders Direct customer you may wish to contact your Account Manager to discuss being alerted to these opportunities.
Finally one of the most important things that you can do to help with all bids is to ask for feedback. The blog on your rights as a supplier outlines the information that you can request and how you go about it. Your Rights as a Supplier
This is vital as any feedback that you get can be used to build a stronger bid the next time you apply and increase your chances of winning.
Tenders Direct picks up all OJEU notices and will ensure that you will not miss a high value opportunity published throughout Europe. We manually categorise all tenders to ensure that you don’t miss a relevant opportunity and give you more time to focus on writing your bids.
What experiences have you had tendering for opportunities across Europe? Did you find it was more difficult than bidding for work in the UK? Any success stories that you would like to share with us?