New online tool launched to help business with public sector procurement

A new online tool has been launched to help local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) ready themselves to be better prepared to pitch for contract opportunities in the public sector.

The Fit To Bid diagnostic tool has been developed over recent months many months by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce experts and the Suffolk Growth Programme Board (SGPB) and can be accessed via the business organisation’s website ( by clicking on ‘Business Support’ and then ‘Fit to Bid’.                                                                                                                                                                       

The tool, which has been been designed with input from procurement leads from the NHS, police, health commissioners, higher education professionals and local councils addresses some of the common barriers to procurement highlighted in an earlier survey of SMEs and signposts companies to ways of overcoming them.                                                                                                                                                              

Amanda Ankin, operations director at Suffolk Chamber, said: “this diagnostic tool is a key part of a unique partnership between us and the SGPB, working on behalf of the public sector in the county. 

“As well as gathering together the views and experiences of nearly 400 Suffolk SMEs, we have partnered with the SGPB in delivering six very successful workshops across the county which have allowed many SMEs to get better able to successfully bid for public sector contracts. More are planned from October onwards.” 

“It’s great that this unique collaboration between a Chamber and the public sector is now moving into its next phase.”

The size of public sector spend in Suffolk is considerable with current estimates putting the annual figure at around £2bn.

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce’s manifesto for business has the aim of: “improving procurement opportunities so that all public sector partners better engage with local businesses in promoting and deciding upon contracts in their supply chains”. 

Stephen Baker, who chairs the SGPB on behalf of the public sector in Suffolk, said: “this tool is the next step in our programme of work aimed at ensuring our firms are well placed to bid for the contracts that are tendered across the Suffolk public sector.  

Nick Gowrley, portfolio holder for economic development, housing and enterprise at Suffolk County Council added: “we are committed to developing our procurement processes, working in partnership with our supply chains, to deliver the greatest economic and social value from all our public sector spend.  I believe this tool will be of significant benefit to our SME sector and will improve firms’ ability to bid for work in the future”.

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