The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is the UK’s single largest procurer of products and services, with a commitment to spend at least 2% of UK GDP on defence from 2015-2025. In 2017/18 alone this equated to almost £20 billion – over 40% of all UK government procurement spend. The MOD even have their own procurement portal, Defence Contracts Online.
As you would imagine, defence tenders are not just limited to the more traditional military goods such as tanks or weaponry but cover a huge range of goods and services in many different sectors. The MOD have also stated that they recognise that SMEs have a great deal to offer in terms of promoting economic growth. They are working to help SMEs gain a greater share of defence related business by improving access to their tenders, and want at least 25% of their procurement spend to go to SMEs by 2022. This means there are huge opportunities out there for SMEs to grow their business by winning defence tenders.
Defence tenders, however, can be very technical, complex and often large. They can therefore be somewhat off-putting for smaller businesses, but fundamentally, the MOD operates just like any other public sector commissioner/buyer. Understanding their underlying motivations, not just their stated requirements, and demonstrating that your offer is in in precise alignment with them is critical to winning a defence contract.
The MOD currently have an emphasis on innovation in order to attract new or non-traditional suppliers, and to keep ahead of the rapidly changing global security and technology landscape. This is an area where SMEs can really excel and compete with the larger corporate organisations, who although they may be perceived as better resourced or lower risk, have more constraints and perhaps move much more slowly than an SME is able to.
As stated previously, defence tenders cover a huge range of UK wide products and services, providing a rich source of opportunities for your business to grow. Just some of the products and services that might be specified in a defence tender include: