Business Benefits at One Year to Go

  • 9-16-2011

7 July 2011 marked one year until the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Games. It may still seem a long way away but it is considered by many as the final stretch of an epic seven year journey which began when London was awarded the Games in July 2005.

London 2012 should be extremely proud of what it has achieved to date. The London Organising Committee (LOCOG) has delivered a robust sponsorship programme, generating the £750 million needed to host the Games. Although it has attracted some criticism, LOCOG were also able to sell over 3.5 million tickets to approximately 850,000 applicants 12 months out from the Games, unprecedented for any previous Organising Committee.

The work of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), responsible for the delivery of the venues and physical infrastructure for the Games, has also been hugely successful. Their progress has consistently surpassed the expectations of the International Olympic Committee and it was recently announced that the construction all major venues is complete, 12 months out from the Games Opening Ceremony.

But perhaps one of the most important, yet less heralded, achievements has been by which the business community, in particular SMEs, have been able to directly benefit from the commercial opportunities generated by London 2012. 98% of contracts awarded by LOCOG and the ODA have been awarded to businesses based in the UK and companies in each of the nations and regions have contributed to the 2012 project. The ODA has directly awarded almost £6bn worth of business to UK companies and thousands more businesses have won contracts further down the supply chain.

For the first time at any Olympic and Paralympic Games, London 2012 has provided a route for SMEs to access and bid for sub-contracting opportunities with their tier one suppliers through an online procurement portal called CompeteFor. CompeteFor was launched in January 2007 and to date has made over 9,000 opportunities available. Of the contracts awarded through the portal, 72% have gone to SMEs and 22% to businesses with 10 or less employees. CompeteFor has also provided a route to focussed business support for over 20,000 businesses, helping them build their skills and capacity to boost their long term competitiveness.

One such SME which has benefited from CompeteFor was Arc Theatre. Based in Barking, Arc Theatre was commissioned by the Olympic Delivery Authority to develop and deliver an educational theatre programme for school children aged 9-11 to keep them safe in and around the Olympic Park in Stratford. Artistic Director, Carole Pluckrose, says:

‘I was highly surprised to see an educational theatre based contract on the website, which I knew was responsible for the construction work in east London. This was refreshing – if unusual.

‘The benefit of CompeteFor is its appeal to small businesses. It’s useful to be alerted by email of opportunities that match my profile. It also has a good search tool and saves our information so we don’t have to re-enter it every time we apply for a contract. This makes pre-qualifying questionnaires so much quicker to fill out. We may not win every contract but at least we are competing.’

In the next 12 months, London 2012 anticipate it will procure a further £700 million worth of goods and services and continue to encourage their supply chains to use CompeteFor to identify sub-contractors. The procurement tool has also been adopted by other UK projects and public sector organisations including Crossrail, Haringey Council and Westminster City Council. The Metropolitan Police Service recently announced that CompeteFor will be used to identify suppliers for all purchases above £500 when not available from an existing corporate contract.

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