Companies across the North West are being offered the chance to bid for contracts to help deliver the massive 2012 Olympics building programme.
The CompeteFor service is part of the new London 2012 Business Network, which has its own regional arm funded by the North West Development Agency.
With an estimated 75,000 future business opportunities – worth £6bn – expected to arise for direct contractors and their supply chains as the Olympic Delivery Authority and London Organising Committee prepare to allocate work, North West companies have the opportunity to showcase their businesses to a worldwide audience.
And it seems they are more than ready to take the bull by the horns, with over 600 companies already having registered to receive email alerts about London 2012 contract opportunities.
Some companies are sceptical of whether the system can work in practice
Their interest is paying off. Despite only a small proportion of contracts having been issued, 14 companies or organisations based in the North West have already supplied the Olympic Delivery Authority. These include Bolton-based Watson Steel Structures which has won a lucrative contract to supply steel for the Olympic stadium.
The NWDA has pledged £2m to support the delivery of the London 2012 Business Network in the North West. CompeteFor is just one of three services that the Network offers. The others focus on essential information on upcoming opportunities and how to supply London 2012; and business events.
Steve Broomhead, chief executive of the NWDA, says: "We know that the extent to which the North West's businesses will benefit depends upon how well the region differentiates itself and how proactive businesses are to adapt and develop new products that align to the vision and event requirements of London 2012.
"The legacy of the 2012 Games for the North West will be to create new jobs and grow stronger and fitter companies that are equipped to supply other major events and public sector projects.
"Our experience of the Commonwealth Games, which helped to grow and develop so many North West companies, demonstrates the powerful impact the 2012 Games can make in the region."
A programme of events is planned to give further support to companies on areas such as health and safety, contract negotiations and sustainable public procurement.
But some companies are sceptical of whether the system can work in practice.
Mark Rawstron, regional senior director at GVA Grimley in Manchester, says: "If this is a genuine attempt to enable North West companies to be involved in bidding for contracts for London 2012 then this can only be a good thing.
"That said, one would question how a region physically remote from London could compete on a level playing field with contractors and developers that are in close proximity to the capital. I do welcome this step by the London 2012 Business Network for North West business progression however, as in essence it is a very good idea".
The network was launched at an event held at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium and attended by Olympics minister Tessa Jowell, Olympic Delivery Authority chairman John Armitt, and Seb Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games.
How CompeteFor works:
- Companies at every level of the London 2012 supply chain will be encouraged to advertise their supplier opportunities online through CompeteFor.
- After registering basic company information any interested business can view the opportunities advertised. Companies can then complete a business profile, which involves answering a series of simple questions, to be able to compete for opportunities.
- A company's business profile is automatically tested against a small number of minimum standards in areas such as health and safety. If these requirements are not met the company is automatically referred to tailored, local business support provided by Business Link.
- Once a company's profile is successfully published on CompeteFor they are automatically matched to opportunities which suit their business and invited, by email, to apply for them by filling out a short, tailored application form. The buyer advertising the contract then selects a shortlist of companies and invites them to formally tender through the buyer's own procurement system.
- Details of the winning bidder(s) are published on CompeteFor and unsuccessful bidders receive feedback from the buyer. Throughout the process local business support agencies are on hand to help companies maximise their chances of success.
For more details log on to www.london2012.com/business