Scottish Government
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More support for enterprises

£360,000 to help businesses with public sector projects.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and third sector businesses will find it easier to bid for £10 billion Scottish public sector contracts thanks to the roll-out of a digital procurement initiative.

A £360,000 funding boost to the Supplier Development Programme will help an additional 2,200 businesses of all sizes, across all sectors, develop their digital capability and be more efficient in bidding and fulfilling public contracts.

SMEs will receive advice on attracting online trade and guidance on transacting electronically with the public sector through dozens of events, training opportunities and a new SDP website, set up by funding from the Scottish Government’s Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership.

The roll-out of the programme will supplement existing services provided by Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Ready for Business and the Supplier Development Programme. The public sector currently spends around £10 billion a year on contracts, with 46 per cent spent with SMEs.

Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Earlier this month the Scottish Parliament passed the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill which means that public bodies will now have a duty to consider how they can facilitate the involvement of SMEs, third sector bodies and supported businesses in procurements.

“This new funding for the Supplier Development Programme will play a key role in helping suppliers participate in procurement excercises, and is a great example of public services in Scotland working together to develop our economic capacity.

“Working in partnership with the enterprise agencies, local authorities and other public bodies, we are committed to proactively supporting Scottish suppliers and want to help them meet the requirements of public bodies.

“What’s more, through the Supplier Development Programme we can contribute to the development of digital business skills that can allow Scottish business to compete in the global market.”

The Supplier Development Programme will be hosted by South Lanarkshire Council.

Councillor Chris Thompson, Chair of the Supplier Development Programme and chair of South Lanarkshire Council’s Enterprise Services Committee said: 

“This is an exciting phase in the development of the Supplier Development Programme.

“The support from the Scottish Government will allow SDP to enhance the existing support we provide to SMEs.

“It will also let us explore new, innovative ways to allow businesses access to public sector contracts via the increased use of digital media and in how the SMEs engage with our colleagues in Procurement.

“The fact that the Scottish Government is supporting SDP shows that they have confidence in the work that we are doing and wish to roll this out across Scotland and to build on our previous success.

“As Chair of the Supplier Development Programme I also take personal pride in the fact the South Lanarkshire Council will host the new, national initiative.”

Andy Willox, the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Scottish policy convenor, said:

“The FSB wants more Scottish small businesses winning public work. Alongside moves to encourage a more proportional approach from buyers, we warmly welcome extra support to ensure small enterprises deliver polished bids.

“Further, by supporting small Scottish businesses to develop better digital skills, we give them the opportunity to capitalise on the investment the country is making in digital infrastructure. Scottish small businesses, no matter their size or sector, can use information technology to level the playing field with their much larger competitors.”

Notes To Editors

The Supplier Development Programme was established by a number of Scotland’s local authorities to provide public sector procurement training for SMEs and the Third Sector.

The programme follows the publication of Scotland’s Digital Future– Supporting the Transition to a World leading Digital Economy ( which identified the challenges faced by SMEs in attracting and retaining people with digital experience, and highlighted that SMEs are often unfamiliar with the benefits, risks and costs of ICT projects.

The Scottish Government’s ambition is for Scotland to be internationally recognised as a world-class digital nation and economy by 2020. To realise this ambition, seamless support and advice on digital topics for businesses is being made available via The Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership. Members include representatives from Scottish Government; Scottish Enterprise; Highlands & Islands Enterprise; Skills Development Scotland; Scottish Funding Council; Technical Advisory Group; ScotlandIS; Education Scotland; E-Skills UK; Local Authorities and the Federation of Small Businesses.

Ready for Business offers a unique opportunity to develop and embed a number of leading market development solutions, including the Public Social Partnership (PSP) model, Community Benefit Clauses (CBC) and the use of Social Value throughout public sector commissioning and procurement in Scotland.

It builds a platform to facilitate third sector engagement in service design to meet community needs and, at the same time, further increase the overall sustainability of the sector, whilst offering public bodies the opportunity to commission services efficiently and effectively.

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