The UK’s premier public procurement showcase, Procurex National 2019, took place at the NEC, Birmingham on 30 April, welcoming over 1400 delegates from both the public and private sectors. Across the four Skills Development Zones and the Public Sector Solutions Live Stage, attendees were able to enjoy a wealth of training sessions, talks by subject matter experts from all areas of the procurement landscape, and product showcases.
Public Sector Solutions Live
The Public Sector Solutions Live Stage saw keynote talks from six leading experts in procurement representing the public, private and third sectors. The first speaker, Malcolm Harrison, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), stressed the need for social value at every stage of the supply chain. Mr Harrison warned against the misconception that social value is only important in local government procurement, as it is now equally important to central government in many countries across the world and in the private sector too.
The theme of social value continued in keynote talks from Mark Roberts and Claire Smart. Mr Roberts, Continuous Commercial Improvement Director at the Cabinet Office, emphasised: “A number of organisations – not just in the public sector – are stressing the need for social value. This is something we need to learn about from a variety of stakeholders.” Ms Smart, Procurement Director for the National Trust, spoke about the lessons that the charity sector and the public sector can learn from each other in procurement. Ms Smart highlighted that while many working in public procurement may find legislation such as OJEU restrictive, the absence of such rules for the charity sector can prove difficult: “Rules can distract, but they also professionalise.”
Talks from David Brown, Project Director of Online Marketplace for Dubai Expo 2020, and Adam Stewart, Regional Manager, UK Public Sector for Google Cloud, gave delegates the chance to learn more about these two innovative digital services.
The final keynote talk of the day was delivered by Simon Tse, Chief Executive of the Crown Commercial Service (CCS). Mr Tse began his talk by saying: “Procurex continues to be one of the greatest showcases for the innovation that drives public service. It offers tremendous opportunities for us all to collaborate.”
Mr Tse’s wide-ranging talk addressed areas such as the strategic goals of CCS, the balance between social value and financial savings, and the differing challenges faced by larger organisations and SMEs.
Market Support and Engagement Zone
This year at Procurex National’s Market Support and Engagement Zone delegates were given their very own ‘Passport to Early Engagement’ – as well as a complimentary BiP-branded flight pillow.
The teams on stand (Supply2Gov, Cyber Essentials, Tracker Intelligence, and Media & Marketing Solutions) were there to direct public procurement professionals to the solutions that can help their organisations to fly high.
‘Flyers’ were also given the chance to mix business and pleasure as the stand hosted a ‘paper planes’ UX competition, with the winner grabbing an experience day prize.
GO Excellence in Public Sector Procurement Live Stage
The afternoon saw several of the finalists for the evening’s UK National Government Opportunities (GO) Excellence in Public Procurement Awards 2019/20 interviewed ahead of the evening’s gala Awards presentation. Representatives of finalist organisations including Scan4Safety, the Bank of England, iHELP and the Department for International Development described what prompted their procurement exercises, some of the unique challenges they faced, and their excitement about the possibility of winning an award.
David Smith, chair of the GO Awards judging panel, told the gathered nominees that “procurement people are probably the most important in any organisation.” After the interviews, every finalist was presented with a certificate announcing their nomination.
PH4 England is happening on 4 July 2019 at the NEC, Birmingham.