GovTech in Focus: Top Tenders and Awards, May-June


Startups, we know that selling to the public sector is tough. In a monthly series, PUBLIC – in partnership with Tussell, the data provider on UK government contracts and spend – provides the GovTech community with the lowdown on the most valuable and exciting GovTech tenders issued by public-sector bodies every month – as well as the opportunities you might have missed. In last month’s edition, we noted that the GovTech market had experienced a decline since the onset of the pandemic – one characterised by a fall in the number and value of tenders for new technologies.We’re glad to say that – as we predicted – the decline appears to have been temporary. This month, we’ve seen an upward trend in invitations to tender (ITTs).While the value of these may not yet have returned to what we were seeing prior to March, the focus and ambition is clear, and we don’t imagine it will be long before we’re looking at a healthy number of new opportunities every month.


If evidence were needed that Government departments are becoming more confident that technology can transform their services, this notice from the Home Office is a strong indication.With many of the big contracts with key suppliers set to end in the next 24-36 months, the Home Office is keen to get an idea of what technologies are out there that might help improve and upgrade the work of the Visas and Citizenship Directorate.With a remit covering the ‘definition of requirements, running procurements…and mobilising those contracts’, The Future Supplier Services strategic buying programme runs the gamut, and appears to indicate that root and branch digital transformation is the direction of travel.The potential requirements, which include everything from ‘app developers’ and ‘contact centre services’ to ‘biometrics’ and ‘AI and big data processing’ make this a ‘don’t miss’ opportunity for relevant startups.TechUK will be hosting two days of discussion for interested suppliers on 8 & 9 July. We would always recommend suppliers take the time to work out what the problems are that need to be solved, so make sure to participate in these discussions.


Many of the last month’s opportunities have come and gone, and while the opportunities are no longer on offer (we’ll keep track of the winners), the notices themselves give us a strong clue as to where departments’ priorities lie:Most tellingly – this tender from UK Shared Business Services on behalf of the Future Sectors Team at the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy is a step toward further opening up the market for GovTech.As things stand BEIS is looking to develop a database that will help it understand what technologies individual businesses are developing, and how policy development can support, assist and exploit the use of ‘artificial intelligence, robotics and quantum technologies.’UKSBS and BEIS aren’t the only ones working to get a better sense of how embracing new technologies might support their work – as this notice from the Health and Safety Executive seeking a partner to help work out how to employ analytics in improving global health and safety performance proves.


Again, if this month’s published awards tell us anything, it’s the continuing commitment to the value of AI among UK Government departments and other public bodies. The awards we’ve seen seem to indicate that these bodies are taking a more explorative approach, building up the skills and understanding of the technology both internally and externally – rather than immediately leaping to purchase particular technologies.We covered Digital Catapult’s announcement of tenders for a researcher and a service designer in a recent installment of GovTech in Focus – and these positions have now been filled.Elsewhere, DCMS has awarded Market & Opinion Research International Ltd a £175k contract to find out where the gaps in the UK’s labour market are when it comes to AI, while a second contract – £45.4k to Claremont marketing Communications Ltd – is for a promotional campaign designed to “put the UK at the forefront of AI industries.While actual awards to developers appear to be a little thin on the ground, the above awards clearly indicate that this isn’t down to a reduced appetite, and – based on the above – developers should keep a close eye on upcoming tenders as the procurement focus moves from understanding the market to purchasing technology.


Last month, we identified an astonishing £72 million in tech procurement spend relating directly to COVID-19. In the last month, that figure has fallen sharply as the one-time mass-expenditure by departments and bodies adjusting to remote working seems to have eased.One notable follow-on from last month is this award to Computacenter – (who you may remember won a £60 million contract from the DfE for provision of tablets and other devices). In a further contract worth £2.4m, the company will now provide web-filtering services to the department as well.

The tech shaping the Government’s COVID response

The Medicines Discovery Catapult published two tenders: One, worth £37k to Jungle IT and another, £31.5k to Scan Computers International. While the awards related to IT infrastructure, the purchases were to support the delivery of the The UK Lighthouse Labs that have been established “to dramatically increase the number of coronavirus tests that can take place each day to support the national effort against the coronavirus pandemic”.This notice from NHS Digital on behalf of NHSX – which emphasises the latter’s push to scale digital solutions to remote monitoring. Set to run for six months, the notice itself is a call for startups with solutions to ensure that they’re registered and set up on the Spark Dynamic Purchasing System.We’ve spoken a lot about Spark on this site, but if you’re not aware – it’s a framework designed for emerging technologies, so while the notice may have expired, we highly recommend getting yourself on this framework so you’re ready to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.This £400k award from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to Faculty (the AI startup run by Marc Warner) stands out, too.Faculty will provide MHCLG with data scientists to support the COVID response, with services set to include “IT services: consulting, software development, Internet and support”. The contract runs for three months, but there’s no significant information on what the work entails beyond the details in the contract.

UPDATE: Track-and-tracing awards for covid-19 app solutions

With the Test-and-trace app expected to be rolled-out for use in the summer, last month we reported on the DHSC spend on the app up to that point. In total, we found 7 awards by the Department of Health in relation to the new app, including:

Since then, DHSC has published the remaining awards relating to the app, which include:

Which, as far as we can see, brings the total tech spend on the app to support test and trace to around £12m.If you are a tech company that wants unparalleled insights into the key government opportunities and trends, get in touch with us about how we can help – you might be interested in applying to our GovStart programme! Using Tussell’s comprehensive database of UK public sector procurement and spend, you can get trends, analysis and live updates on the government’s procurement of technology. Essential for anyone looking to take a strategic approach to scaling up through public procurement.


Sep 20, 2021