SMEs helped to bid for EU programme business

EU experts are to advise Northern Ireland companies on how to bid for contracts worth billions of euros in developing countries around the world. Invest Northern Ireland has teamed up with Crown Agents, a UK company which helps smaller firms bid for EU and other international aid contracts, to organise a special workshop in Belfast on 10th October.

The EU spends €10 billion each year in grant aid to countries outside the community, providing a vast array of opportunities, especially in the consultancy sector, although there are sizeable contracts for supplies and works.

Senior representatives from the UK Trade and Investment’s Aid Funded Business Service and the government’s commercial representative in Brussels will also take part in the briefing, the first time such an event has been held in Northern Ireland.

Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Director of Trade, said the EU external aid programme offers significant business opportunities for Northern Ireland companies in areas such as training services, infrastructure development, power, health and education,  private sector development, energy and environment, ICT and water sanitation.

“EU External Aid Programmes operate across 160 countries and territories worldwide and are focused on five key geographic regions: Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia; he Mediterranean and the Middle East; African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs); Asia; and Latin America.

“While several local companies are already doing business with the EU on external programmes, we believe there are substantial opportunities for many other companies prepared to set aside the time and other resources to monitor, identify and tender for business.

“We have organised this workshop to enable our companies to gain a greater understanding of EU external aid programmes; learn how to win business through making well prepared bids; find out how EU project proposals are evaluated; and hear about the latest developments in key programmes such as Phare and Tacis.”

Crown Agents is an international development company that provides direct assistance, consultancy and training in areas such as procurement. It works in 110 countries for organisations such as the World Bank, European Commission, United Nations and government departments including the UK’s Department of International Development.