Last Wednesday we headed to the University of the West of England (UWE) to hear about the latest opportunities to support public sector organisations down here in the South West.
Packed into UWE’s Exhibition and Conference Centre were representatives from across the spectrum of enterprise. Here’s a run-down of what we learnt on a fascinating morning of talks…
THE REGION IS THRIVING
Adam Powell, Director of Skills at the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), kicked things off with an insight into the region’s state of play.
The long and short of it is that business is booming. A few facts and figures:
- The economy here is worth £25bn a year
- 9 out of 10 people live and work here, as opposed to either living or working outside the area
- £10bn every year is fed into the Treasury in taxes
- It has the highest number of entrepreneurs per capita in the whole of the UK
The creative & digital sector is a crucial part of this success. According to Adam, over 500 million people view digital content produced in the region every month, and its GVA (gross value added) stands at £664m per year.
We’re proud to play our small part in this remarkable story.
DEVOLUTION IS COMING
Three of the four local councils in the region have voted to go ahead with a devolution deal that will see more power, investment and responsibility transferred to their authorities.
At the West of England LEP, they’re clearly delighted:
“The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership welcomes the news that Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire councillors have had the foresight and courage to accept the ambitious devolution deal which transfers new strategic powers and responsibilities to local decision-makers, bringing with it almost £1billion of new funding to the West of England. This is a tremendous step forward for business and residents.”
If the LEP’s prediction of “significant boost to economic growth and prosperity” comes to fruition, we’re only too happy to reap the benefits as a growing SME in the region.
SOCIAL VALUE IS VITAL
Jacqueline Miller of Bristol City Council was joined for her talk by Karl Belizaire, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Works.
Jacqueline and Karl outlined how all public bodies in England and Wales are required by the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 to consider how the services they procure might improve Social Value. How can each decision made have a positive impact on society?
Admittedly we, like many in the audience, weren’t aware of the initiative. But, with a diverse workforce from a range of backgrounds, we’re definitely keen to contribute to positive social value any way we can.
More info on how Bristol City Council are committing to the Act can be found here (PDF).
SO ARE SMEs!
Adam Powell advised SMEs looking for growth support and opportunities to visit the West of England LEP’s Growth Hub. Getting local businesses involved in local opportunities is the reason they exist, he emphasised.
Vicky and Linda from Bath & North East Somerset Council were fervent in their desire to encourage SMEs to register on their supplier portal and apply for relevant tenders. “We must encourage SMEs to seize these opportunities”, said Linda.
Vicky and Linda then went on to impart some advice on how to get your tender application spot on – and what not to do when filling it in. Their top tips:
- Examine the evaluation criteria with a fine-toothed comb
- Avoid generic answers. Articulate what you do, and what makes you stand out.
- But be concise. Cut to the chase, using bullet points where appropriate
- Review what you’ve written yourself, scoring it as you go along
- And above all, give yourselves plenty of time! Don’t leave it until the last minute
We’ve registered with the relevant portals, and updated our info on those we were already on. So we’ll be taking all this advice on board when the next suitable tender rolls around!