By Joanne Barrett
A new business support programme has been launched to help construction industry firms in County Durham win more work.
Called Construction Routes to Contract Success, it will run for two years and is targeting SMEs in the sector and its extensive supply chain.
The programme is commissioned by Business Durham’s Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP) and funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
The programme will offer tailored support to firms through a number of events and initiatives with a focus on helping companies sharpen their approach to bidding for new contracts and winning new sales orders.
It launched at the end of July with a virtual event and 27 businesses have already signed up to take part.
“We are hands-on to help people win work,” said Garry Stone, managing director of B2B North, the company which will deliver the DBOP project managed by Business Durham.
“The programme will run workshops, consult with all the different representative groups and make sure we focus on what’s needed at the right time.
“Any business in the sector in County Durham can get involved.
“We delivered a successful programme last year to all businesses in Durham, it ran over 10 months and construction was a strong part of it.
“There is real potential for local businesses to step up, and for us to help with whatever they need to win more work – whether it’s taking the step from domestic into contract work, securing subcontracting, winning that first tender, or making that next move up as an established business.”
DBOP will offer a combination of tailored activities both online and face to face, when Covid safety regulations allow. There’ll be expert briefings and one-to-one sessions as well as networking events to open up tender processes and brief businesses on how best to position themselves to win contracts.
It will connect to the supply chain and subcontracting opportunities in a bid to join up needs with the right suppliers and help firms develop tender, proposal and quotation writing skills.
The programme aims to build on the success of another DBOP project called Routes to Success which has already helped firms win in excess of £2m worth of new contracts.
DBOP Construction is aimed at the county’s construction industry and its supply chain – including all specialist consultancy, supply and support services through every stage of planning, build and fitting out across all types of projects.
In 2017 the accumulated value of all UK construction businesses measured through gross value added (GVA) was £97 billion. The North-East region contributed £3.2 billion and in County Durham, the figure was put at £611m.
A survey identified barriers to companies bidding for and winning work from a procurement perspective.
This programme will help ensure that when opportunities do come around, County Durham firms have all they skills they need to bid for and win contracts, said Business Durham’s business engagement officer Guy Bashford.
“This project builds on our experiences with the 50 businesses we supported last year. To help them raise their aspirations and build the confidence they needed to encourage them to bid for and win contracts in both the public and private sectors,” added Guy.
“The programme ran for 10 months and a lot of businesses involved belonged to the construction sector so we felt that there was a demand there.
“County Durham and the North-East offers a whole host of opportunities so we feel it is very important to work with local suppliers to ensure those opportunities are accessible.”
The two-year programme is open to SMEs with up to 250 employees across County Durham.