More than 700 visitors from across the UK and beyond took advantage of face-to-face networking opportunities at the second supply chain event for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority estate.
The event at the De Vere Whites Hotel, Bolton, was organised jointly by the NDA and its site licence companies, including Dounreay. Held for the first time in 2011, a key goal is to open up visibility of opportunity for all the supply chain, and for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular.
The day was formally opened by Stephen Allott, the Crown representative for SMEs, who reminded delegates of the UK Government’s aspiration that 25% of central government business will go to small and medium-sized enterprises by 2015.
He said: “Since being in post, I’ve seen Government make real progress in supporting SMEs to win more business. A key focus of this has been letting SMEs know about upcoming future public sector contracts, giving them to confidence to invest in new skills, services and products.
“The NDA Estate Supply Chain Event is a great example of this in action, giving SMEs the chance to talk direct to buyers to better understand and shape the market. Everyone I spoke to really valued this opportunity, and it is good to see the NDA focusing on how to help SMEs.”
Almost 100 businesses took exhibition space, alongside information stands representing the NDA, all the SLCs, tier 2 contractors, government bodies and regeneration organisations. Early informal feedback suggests the event has already succeeded in promoting dialogue and opening up possible business links for those who attended.
Among the comments received so far, via the NDA Supply Chain LinkedIn pages, were:
• Most worthwhile, focused event I have been to this year …. I came away with contacts that are already proving extremely useful.
• We managed in one day to collect information and make contacts which would normally have required months.
One of the highlights was the presentation of prestigious new awards to supply chain businesses, recognising their contribution to the clean-up mission. The awards were jointly sponsored by the NDA and the SLCs.
The event is part of a series of initiatives arising from workshops held during 2011 and currently being implemented.
Other measures to support the supply chain include a simplification contract flowdown requirements and adopting HMG’s Contract Finder as the single, web-based portal for forthcoming tendering opportunities.
SME steering groups at a national and regional level are also being established to provide additional focus and support the improvement measures, with the Welsh region first to meet in early January.
Ron Gorham, NDA head of supply chain optimisation and its SME champion, said: “Last year’s inaugural event went extremely well and we are absolutely delighted that even more people were able to attend this year. We listened to feedback from 2011 and aimed to provide more space for business stands and for informal discussions. The indications so far are that it has worked extremely well.
“We remain committed to working with our supply chain, from the largest to the smallest players, to improve opportunities for involvement in decommissioning. The success of our mission depends on vibrant, dynamic businesses that can provide solutions to the many challenges.”