Say ‘Hello’ to Business Link Mini!

Tender and contracts insights from January 2013 – some headlines:

  1. The LEPs are in full swing to create Business Support schemes in their areas
  2. They all have basically the same idea. Say ‘Hello’ to Business Link Mini!
  3. Tell us about what fun and games are going on in YOUR LEP area

One of the interesting things about wading through dozens of sources of
consultancy and business support tenders and contracts each week is the
fascinating insights it gives you into what the public sector is
currently spending your money on. (disclosure: it’s not ME that wades, you
need an adult with an attention-span that’s counted in more than seconds
for this work).

Lately we have seen a crop of LEPs going out to tender for services in
the SME Business Support arena. They all have basically the same idea:
20th Century business support models built on the activities you previously
knew and loved from the Business Links.


A Northern Metropolitan LEP has bagged over £4 million of EuroMoney for
financial assistance, mentoring etc and is out to tender for marketing and
PR for this project. The budget is a little under £35k.

Another LEP is looking for project support to create a sort of Support
Brokerage directory – embedded in the LEP’s premises the lucky
contractor will get paid ‘if the project completes successfully’.

(Members of Skillfair or Business Advisers Direct will, of course,
already know the full details of these contracts from their daily Tender

I’m not saying that ‘putting the Business Links band back together’ is
a bad thing necessarily. Something similar worked well in the popular
1980 motion picture ‘The Blues Brothers’. I mean, anyone who made use of
the Business Links will know that it was perfectly possible to have a
good experience with a business link process or adviser and indeed, I
experienced that myself on more than one occasion.

No, what I find mildly depressing is that all the schemes seem to have
been designed mainly by studying the rear-view mirror.  Recreating the
models of the past, whether or not the elements actually worked. I do see
that we pay the public sector people NOT to have imaginative or innovative
ideas and I thank them for living up to that challenge, but surely the
private sector part of the LEP coalitions could be having some new ideas?

I’m sure I am wrong on this but what it conjures up for me is the image
that the LEP boys and girls having finished all the jelly and
sandwiches, have next taken the opportunity to ‘dress up in Mummy and
Daddy’s old clothes’.  (hint: for Mummy and Daddy, read Business Links
and RDA schemes)

Please tell us what has been going on in this market place where YOU
are.  Tell me why I’m wrong (please!). Most of all, please tell me that
we aren’t really going back to the future, I know I can’t still get into
my tank top and my platform boots are up in the attic.


Andrew Corbett About Andrew Corbett

Membership Development Director for the Skillfair tender and contracts alert service, the UK IT Association and Business Advisers Direct - drop me a line on or ring for a chat on 0844 445 7071

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