Hosted in association with Number 10 and the Cabinet Office, the inaugural Public Procurement Briefing 2012: ‘Driving a Culture of Innovation and Enterprise with SMEs’ brought together senior decision makers in central and local government and leading thinkers in the procurement space to examine the case for proactively opening up procurement to SMEs.
The day opened up a dialogue which examined the latest vision, evidence, good practice and practical solutions for overcoming key barriers to working with SMEs. The programme took inspiration from across the Atlantic and Europe for models and best practice, demonstrating that purchasing from SMEs is not at odds with growth and enterprise with examples of programmes that stimulate innovation and reduce risk.
Chaired by Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, keynote speakers included:
- Rt Hon Francis Maude MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office
- Dr Mark Thompson, University of Cambridge Judge Business School
- Sean Allam, Head of Product Sourcing and Services, John Lewis Partnership
- John Collington, Chief Procurement Officer, Efficiency and Reform Group
- Mark Wakeford, Managing Director, Stepnell
Through a combination of policy and strategy, provocations, best practice and practical workshops, senior civil servants and procurement specialists were challenged to:
- Think differently about procurement; challenging the assumption that ‘big is best’ with the latest policy, vision, and best practice for making Government procurement more responsive and cost-effective.
- Examine what the practical challenges and barriers at each stage in the procurement process, and how they can be made more accessible to SMEs. To this end, to consider practical steps to ensure that complicated processes and assumptions about risk are not a barrier to innovation and enterprise; examining legal issues, strategies and good practice for reconciling SMEs and risk mitigation.
- Consider, through best practice from a range of sectors, the advantages that procuring from SMEs offers in terms of value, both economic and social; improving quality by purchasing from a wider range of competing suppliers who understand and contribute to local economies.
- Examine international case studies for examples of best practice and innovation in making procurement more open and accessible to SMEs, and for solutions to challenges ahead.
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