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Growth through innovation: the Principle One ACE supplier story

Principle One has been with ACE since our earliest days. We speak to CEO Maggie Scott about how this has helped the company develop and grow.

Principle One has come a long way in just a few years. An early partner on the Accelerated Capability Environment (ACE) journey, the technical consultancy was founded by a small team in 2018 and now has over 60 staff working on a diverse range of projects.

With a heritage in secure law enforcement, the company – which has always had a strong focus on agile delivery – was founded to create an environment where staff could help customers solve their core mission problems in a supportive environment. And ACE provided an early opportunity to do just that.

Changing the game

CEO Maggie Scott said:

“ACE was one of the routes to market that was open to us and a very important customer to us in that first year because its procurement process, and the focus on smaller discovery pieces of work or proof of concept innovation, levels the playing field for SMEs such as ourselves.

“We were able to bid from day one against much larger organisations and demonstrate new ideas and value for money to customers that in many cases we already knew. In terms of removing barriers to entry in what is quite a closed market in secure public sector, ACE really did change the game.”

Even in that first year, Principle One worked across a range of different commissions for ACE, including as design authority on a twelve-week discovery commission for a new national data management system for law enforcement, supporting technical experimentation to understand the art of the possible around using internet data in investigations and as part of ACE’s core team of technical enablers.

An early success story for the company was their work on the Access Pass Holder Information Distribution System (APHIDS) secure airports system. Here, they supported stakeholder engagement with regional airports to pull together an understanding of existing systems and processes, and what would be needed to create a unified approach across the UK. Working with other suppliers from ACE’s Vivace industry and academic community they led integration between the two suppliers working remotely on delivering different components of the solution, providing engineering management, business analysis and software integration skills.

Working as part of a multi supplier team is a common theme to Principle One’s work with ACE and, over the last five years their consultants have supported delivery of commissions in areas as diverse as maritime security, the NHS and in the design and mobilisation of a new UK Telecoms Lab to promote research around a new capability.

However, Maggie says, law enforcement remains at the centre of their focus:

“Our staff want to focus on work where they can actually make a difference and it’s been exciting to see the range of new commissions this year across our core customers where we have the opportunity to do just that.

“Supporting ACE in tackling Violence against Women and Girls and in driving change across the UK has been a highlight of this year to date and has led to our funding our own innovation work to develop an app that could help frontline officers identify the right protective measure to support domestic abuse victims.”

A springboard for long term customer relationships

Overall, Maggie estimates that ACE remains the contracting route for around 20% of Principle One’s customer-facing work. ACE has also been an important gateway into new areas – such as health – that had not previously been a target. Working with ACE has shown how transferrable their experience and skills are, particularly around managing data in complex and sensitive environments.

Maggie added:

“While we have adopted ACE’s ways of working from the outset, I think we have also brought our own methods to ACE. The techniques we bring as consultants, and our know-how and tradecraft, are built on our collective experience of tackling complex systems problems.”

Another big focus for Principle One is social value, with a strong focus on engagement across the team. Principle One supports the Police Care charity, which is focused on mental health and wider support for officers and staff, and their work covers both fundraising and consulting support. The company also has a partnership with Police Now and hosts secondees each year, promoting diversity in neighbourhood policing. This has led to ACE also supporting the charity, offering several placements for officers.  

Principle One’s graduate programme, meanwhile, is going from strength to strength, with an intake of around six graduates each year from a diverse range of degree backgrounds and universities. It also offers internships and work placements, with up to four interns completing a ten-week placement each summer. It has also hired its first apprentice last year as part of a careers partnership with a local school and is committed to the London living wage for these pre-graduate roles. And having opened a new office in Vauxhall at the end of 2023, Principle One expects its relationship with ACE to grow and diversify, with stronger collaboration with its customers and community of suppliers.


Channel website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/home-office

Original article link: https://www.gov.uk/government/case-studies/growth-through-innovation-the-principle-one-ace-supplier-story

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