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Diolch Cymru!

BiP is delighted to continue our awards season, with celebrations at our second Gala evening hosting the GO Awards Wales.

Finally returning as an in-person event, following four years of disruption, our Welsh procurement teams certainly made the most of the event.

The GO Awards showcase the innovation and ingenuity that ensures public spend creates lasting social and economic benefit; and mark the extensive collaborations and partnerships that exist across supply chains. This is the 20th year of the GO Awards programme, which – apart from a national event covering the entire UK – includes Awards for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Celebrating public procurement in Wales at Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel & Spa on 9th November, the awards evening highlighted the amazing work that often goes under the radar.

Despite uncertainty and turmoil in the political and economic arena, public procurement simply continues to get on with the job: getting vital stuff done and making a genuine, real-world difference to people’s lives. No drama, no rhetoric, no nonsense: just purpose and delivery.

And the GO Awards Wales was here to do just that, celebrating the people and teams that make procurement happen.

The Awards were judged by leading procurement figures from across Wales and the UK. The panel included: Mark Roscrow MBE Programme Director, NHS Wales Shared Services, Professor Jane Lynch Reader in Procurement and Supply Chain, Cardiff Business School, Liz Lucas MSc, FCIPS Chartered Head of Customer and Digital Services, Caerphilly County Borough Council, Scott Parfitt BA (Hons) MSc FHEA MCIPS Senior Lecturer Procurement Lead, University of South Wales, Grahame Steed Content, Research and Communications Director, BiP Solutions and Eddie Regan Principal Consultant, PASS Procurement​.

The big winner on the night was NHS Wales Shared Services and Partnership which took home the evening’s star category ‘The GO Excellence Award’ as well as succeeding in several other categories, while Mark Roscrow MBE was recognised by GO Awards with a hugely deserved ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’.

All outright category winners now gain automatic finalist status for the UK National Public Procurement Awards, where they will compete against Scotland, Northern Ireland & England, with the UK awards ceremony taking place next year in Birmingham.

BiP is delighted to continue our awards season, with celebrations at our second Gala evening hosting the GO Awards Wales.“Congratulations to all our winners and highly commended entries for their inspiring contributions, and to all our finalists who provided us with such strong competition for these awards. We hope everyone attending had a great evening!”

A big thank you must go to attendees who supported our charity raffle for The Trussell Trust, raising over £1,300.00 in support of their hugely important nationwide network of food banks.

Thanks must also go to our sponsors, Lyreco UK and IrelandCentrica Business SolutionsIDNS LtdJewson Partnership SolutionsPersonal GroupEssity, Mercateo (part of Unite) and Llywodraeth Cymru / Welsh Government, without all of whom the GO Awards Wales would not have been possible.

We look forward now to the UK National GO Awards, the winners of which will be celebrated at our final ceremony in June 2023.

GO Awards Wales 2022/23 winners:

  • Contract and Supplier Management Award (sponsored by Jewson) ‒ NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership
  • Collaborative Procurement Initiative Award (sponsored by Mercateo) Welsh Government – Musical Instruments Dynamic Purchasing Agreement
  • Social Value Award (sponsored by Essity) ‒ NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership ‒ Displacing single-use medical textiles with more effective zero-carbon zero-waste targeted circular solutions
  • Procurement Delivery Award (sponsored by Personal Group) – Joint winners: NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership – Cardiff and Vale Frontline Procurement
  •  Velindre University NHS Trust & NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership – Integrated Radiotherapy Solution for SE Wales
  • Individual of the Year Award (sponsored by Welsh Government) ‒ Jonathan Irvine – Director, Procurement Services, NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership
  • Procurement Team of the Year (sponsored by IDNS) ‒ Cardiff and Vale Frontline Procurement Team (part of NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership)
  • Outstanding Achievement Award (sponsored by Centrica) ‒ Mark Roscrow MBE
  • GO Excellence Award – (sponsored by Lyreco) – NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership ‒ Displacing single-use medical textiles with more effective zero-carbon, zero-waste targeted circular solutions

Highly Commended:

  • Collaborative Procurement Initiative Award ‒ Digital Health and Care Wales
  • Individual of the Year Award ‒  Helen Rees – Head of Procurement and Contracting, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service

We started in a Portakabin, now we’re a multi-million-pound tech business

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There have been many incarnations of BiP Solutions in the journey from print publisher to the buzzing procurement intelligence firm it is today.

CEO Simon Burges has lived through every incarnation: boyhood memories of a cold Portakabin where his father cut out notices from newspapers to create a magazine, to the terraced house with a printing press rumbling in the basement, to today – a three-storey glass-fronted HQ on the banks of the River Clyde.

The second-generation family business was founded in 1984 by Manchester-born Ron Burges and rode the wave of emerging technology – pivoting from print to data disks to a digital-first business which connects buyers and suppliers.

“Each generation has been a business owner,” explains Simon.  “I think there’s a very clear pattern between what my grandfather did, what my father did, and what I’m doing now – it has all been based on ideas and seizing opportunity.”

The entrepreneurial spirit is clearly a Burges trait, starting with Simon’s grandfather Les who ran a grocery shop in Urmston before relocating to Glasgow and buying a petrol station.

His son Ron followed in his footsteps taking on laundrettes and contract cleaning before spotting a gap in the market – a central directory of available tenders to bid for more work.

Simon said:

“There wasn’t any level of transparency back then because procurement was really seen as a back-office function.

“It wasn’t obvious where people could find this information and that’s where the idea for Contrax Weekly came from – a publication which aggregated contract opportunities to drive competition.”

The family dynamic

There was never any pressure to join the family business but after years of long hours and late nights in the hospitality sector Simon decided it was time for a change.

After managing 100 people in bars across Lanarkshire, the pivot to checking data disks took some adjustment.

“My father said: ‘Look, there’s a job if you want it, but you’re going to start at the very bottom.’

“He set some clear ground rules like ‘I’m not dad in the business, I’m Ron’ and that still stands today. It was clear that there would be no favouritism and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. There were people who had been in the business a long time and had got it to where it was.”

“I found it tough to be fair, I didn’t understand how to work a computer – I’d never needed to in the industry I’d come from.”

But the ground-up approach meant Simon would get to grips with every aspect of the business starting in testing disks and moving through auditing, purchasing, and marketing before taking the reins as CEO in 2018.

Growth and ambition

One of the biggest breakthroughs for BiP Solutions came when it won a contract with the Cabinet Office to publish central government contracts.

It went on to win work with the Ministry of Defence on a title around supplies, infrastructure and estates – leading to a portfolio of subscription-only magazines such as Contrax Weekly, Public Sector Property and Government Opportunities.

But with the explosion of the internet, it was time to pivot again – online – and they were the first in Europe to create a platform for buyers to publish their tender notices electronically.

BiP Solutions developed a suite of digital products to connect suppliers and buyers – such as Tracker, Delta and CompeteFor enabling the public sector to do better, more transparent, business.

“Procurement today is a key agenda item but back in ’84 it was quite archaic. It was a stores function and people probably won business through who they knew.

“Fast forward to today and government see public procurement as a key lever for economic growth. They’re really focused on procurement reform and how it can be a lever for the greater good of society, things like – sustainability, social value, climate and supporting local economies.

“It’s about creating better value for the taxpayer, which was never really considered before, and the delivery of innovative public services.”

With 140 employees across the UK and a global supply chain, BiP Solutions now counts Crown Commercial Service, the Ministry of Defence, NHS England, Scottish and Welsh Governments and several local authorities among their growing client-base.

And their platforms have opened up the supply chain to hundreds of thousands of SMEs giving them the opportunity to work on national infrastructure projects such as HS2, Crossrail, and the 2012 London Olympics.

Not bad for a business founded on an idea, a pair of scissors and a Pritt Stick.

What the future holds

So, what’s the next incarnation of BiP Solutions?

Beyond doubt it’s centred on tech and the realisation of two years’ worth of investment – introducing artificial intelligence into products to increase search relevance and boost the visibility of tender opportunities.

Tellingly, it has also built up its events portfolio post-COVID with 12 live national procurement events and seven online in 2022 – across healthcare, infrastructure and defence.

It is also building its media and marketing offering with Cadence Marketing, run out of Salford, to get suppliers early engagement with key decision makers in the public sector.

With a target to double business growth in the next three years BiP Solutions is aiming to hit in excess of £20m revenue and it’s clearly an exciting time for the man at the helm who, like his father and grandfather before him, can see opportunity in what lies ahead.

“The thing that keeps me going is continual progression – my objective for the business when I became CEO was let’s take it to the next place,” says Simon.

“I’m not interested in standing still. If we weren’t doing the things we’re doing today – which are challenging and the world is moving quick – I would get bored. We’ve never invested so much into the business in terms of our product innovation programme.

“I think there’s a great opportunity for us. We’re in the right space, we’re investing in technology, we’ve built the senior management team, we’ve analysed our market spaces and we’re now about to put the foot down on the pedal and go to market.”

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BiP Solutions launch HCI, the next generation business intelligence service

BiP Solutions, the leading public sector supply chain specialist, has today launched its new Healthcare Contracts International (HCI) service.

HCI is the first of BiP’s next generation business intelligence services. It provides invaluable insight into the multi-trillion-pound global healthcare market; enabling existing and new suppliers to identify and win more business.

HCI’s unique technology platform, which leverages BiP’s significant investment into machine learning, surfaces more relevant opportunities faster. Customisable dashboards provide users with a slick and intuitive experience, enabling them to discover insights into buyer activity.

At a time of massive investment into health services – not least in the UK – HCI is a powerful tool that will help suppliers grow and buyers access a larger pool of innovative and value-adding partners.

HCI also showcases opportunities in other sectors that could be relevant to healthcare suppliers, broadening their potential customer base.

Simon Burges, CEO of BiP Solutions said:

“We have a great pedigree of creating business intelligence platforms which deliver customer value and see HCI as the next generation from a tech point-of-view. It also complements our other services that help thousands of suppliers and buyers engage and work successfully together.

“HCI is a hugely exciting product for us, especially when NHS spending is increasing dramatically; both in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the long-term commitment to invest more in healthcare, as outlined in the Government’s recent Spending Review.

“By surfacing more opportunities than ever before, we believe HCI will enable this investment to be accessed by a far wider supply base; providing buyers with a greater choice of innovative and high-value products and services.

“It is a proud moment to see all our development work come to fruition and to play our part in connecting suppliers with the health sector at such a critical time in its history.”

HCI expands BiP’s presence within the healthcare market. The company owns and manages two established healthcare procurement events which bring together healthcare buyers and suppliers: P4H and P4H Scotland.

BiP also works closely with the Health Care Supply Association (HCSA), whose Annual Conference and Exhibition on 24 November 2021 is the scene for the official launch of the new HCI service.

Keith Rowley, Chief Officer at the HCSA said:

“HCSA is delighted to see that HCI are launching this exciting new solution at our 2021 conference. We are committed to developing the NHS procurement profession and maintaining strong links with suppliers is a key part of this.

“At a time of increased focus and investment in procurement across the national health service, it’s more important than ever that buyers engage effectively and transparently.  I hope this is one of a number of solutions that will support that aim, whilst also helping increase opportunities across the sector.”

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