In the first of a new 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. 

Startups, we know that selling to the public sector is tough. Even the most perfect marriage between problem and solution is not necessarily safe from the hurdles of public-sector procurement. 

While the walls are definitely coming down in some areas, it’s still a challenge to identify the right opportunities to pitch your solution to public buyers, and harder still to wade through bureaucratic procurement frameworks. 

To make this process slightly easier, we’re identifying the most exciting live opportunities, and highlighting those you might have missed.


  1. A date for the AI diary

First: we have a key date for your diaries courtesy of the Cabinet Office:

Last month, Crown Commercial Service published a pre information notice (PIN) for a new Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) focused exclusively on the provision of artificial intelligence (AI) services. 

Labelled as a pan-Government collaborative agreement, the DPS’s scope will include: general AI services; discovery and consultancy work; development, implementation and support of AI systems in the public sector;  data analytics using AI; as well as the development and implementation of intelligent virtual assistants and intelligent personal assistants.

Though this DPS won’t be startup-dedicated in the way that the new Spark framework is, we’re anticipating that it will be an essential framework for all AI companies seeking to work with the public-sector at all levels; its pan-government setup means that startups will be opening themselves up to procurement across thousands of government departments and agencies. 

The framework is closely aligned with the ongoing public-sector emphasis on AI, which we’ve seen in Government’s AI strategy, the guide to public sector bodies using AI, and – most recently – the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s ‘Artificial Intelligence and Public Standards report, published this week. 

Right now, we expect publication of the contract notice on 2 July 2020. We’ll share more information about the framework when we have it. Put the date in your calendars now!

  1. National Nuclear Laboratory: Help us stop our robots crashing into one another!

Another one for those working in AI and autonomous vehicles – the National Nuclear Laboratory are conducting a survey of robotics technologies in other sectors

There’s no procurement process yet, with the main aim of the survey to engage with the market to discover which technologies currently exist that might help stop the autonomous robots in nuclear facilities from colliding with one another.

They seem confident – and we’re inclined to agree – that the technology already exists in other sectors. If true, this could spell is an excellent scaling opportunity for the right company. A top tip of ours is that getting involved with market engagement processes, be it events, surveys, interviews, is absolutely key to going on and winning the contract when it is finally advertised. Get in the game as early as you can! We’ll report back on any updates to the procurement process when we hear of them. 

  1. IoT Competition

Elsewhere, South London Partnership and London Councils have partnered to deliver an exciting and innovative “Internet of Things” (IoT) programme across the five south london Councils of Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Richmond upon Thames and Sutton.

A closer look finds that the Government’s Digital Catapult is providing advisory and assurance for the councils involved in what will be a 12 week “proof of concept”competition.

While we’ve seen councils partnering around technology procurement in the past, we’re struggling to recall a partnership of this nature and with such potential to engage startups.

So if you’re an IoT entrepreneur and you think that your tech could be used “to help people live better, healthier lives and to generate economic growth”, you have until 21 February to apply. With the potential to scale to five local councils in one go, and a dedicated pot of funding in place, this is a pretty amazing opportunity for any IoT startups.

Read more about the competition on Tussell’s insights page.

  1. Help the police keep up with Cryptocurrency 

Among law enforcement, the rise in the use of cryptocurrencies has driven a demand for technologies that can help police their use.

January provided us with the most recent example, with Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner opening a tender for a “Cryptocurrency Analytics and Tracing Tool”. We thought that was a really cool tender – and will surely be the first of many such initiatives for police forces across the country. Winning this first one will offer huge scale potential for anyone with the solution to solve the problem.

Cryptocurrencies are – by definition – notoriously difficult to trace, but if your tech is up to the task, there’s a £300k contact up for grabs. Apply by the 4th March. 


January also had some great tech contracts that you might have missed but should definitely know about, especially if you are an AI company. In the West Midlands Combined Authority’s drive to become the next hotbed of innovation, it recently awarded Siemens a contract worth £1.33m to develop self-driving cars tests.The WMCA hoped that the project will establish the region as “an internationally-recognised centre for CAV development”. 

As well as being a valuable contract for Siemens, it’s testament to the increasing attraction of the West Midlands as an innovation and investment hotspot – we’re expecting to see more and more exciting tenders coming out of the region and will report here when they’re published.

Elsewhere, January saw a number of high profile AI contracts awarded, with two UK government agencies handing out contracts valued at £100-£450k.

The latter contracts will be of particular interest, following the Government’s decision to put the smart motorways project on hold while it considers safety implications.

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.