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. 

With COVID-19 filling the airwaves and new solutions to its many challenges direly sought after within the public-sector, it’s perhaps easy to forget that many of the issues that troubled government beforehand continue to do so. Across the country, from borough council to combined authority, government department to NHS trust, there are still hundreds of buyers seeking digital solutions to aid in realising more efficient systems for those they serve. 

This last month brought with it a fascinating array of tenders from across the public-sector, including tenders and awards focused on some of the most high-tech, futuristic technologies we’ve seen. Check them out below!


The AI tenders keep coming:

Our quarterly in-depth piece last week took a close look at who’s using AI in the public sector and what they’re using it for. There we noted that the number of contracts was both increasing and diversifying in both origin and purpose.

This month’s notices only serve to hammer this point home – as the world-famous Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Trust goes looking for an AI provider to support its research:

The trust is looking for engineering support for ‘research database build, training and capacity building to explore ophthalmic images using artificial intelligence systems as a means of deploying valuable clinical insights to better understand and stratify ophthalmic or related diseases’.

This looks like a hugely important notice for AI startups. We noted the value of pivoting to respond to different requirements and we’re sure that there are companies out there that will be well placed to do so here. 

The tender – valued at up to £800k – is based on two similar allocations (lots), which means there are two separate agreements up for grabs, with both quality and price specified as key criteria. 

The deadline is this week, so while it’s tight, there’s still time to get a bid in. 

On tender elsewhere, Nottingham University is looking to procure a £75k Computer Vision discovery programme using process automation. They are looking for an Agile supplier to develop a web-based solution that harnesses Microsoft’s custom vision cognitive service or a comparable, machine-learning API.


Healthcare buyers seem to have gone mad for robots this month, with key tenders coming out of the NHS around procurement, installation or maintenance of robots.

Top of this list, NHS Supply Chain is seeking to establish a non-exclusive framework agreement for supply of robotic medical equipment for surgical use. 

It’s a big one: NHS Supply Chain expects to spend £45 million on products to meet its current requirements in the first two years of the agreement alone, and this could well grow – the contract has an upper-end potential value of £100 million.

but robotics startups take note, there’s a lot of interest in this area right now, so take the time to engage with possible buyers while the interest is there.

What’s happening elsewhere?

And finally: Newcastle University is looking to secure an £80k Real-Time Test Bed for Microgrid for Damascus University, Syria. 

The Test Bed will be used to deliver Advanced Teaching and training on Smart grid & Grid Integration of Renewable Energy Systems (AT-SGIRES) project. 

We suspect this last one may be a bit niche for many in our network, but if you have the suitable hardware and expertise, this contract is open to SMEs – and looks to be a vital piece of work to support renewable energy implementation. 


the robot theme continues in those contracts that have already been awarded, too – with a number of awards to manufacturers of robotics technologies:

Unmanned vehicles are a key focus of contracts coming out of both local and central government this month too:

Startups working on robotics or unmanned vehicles, take note, there’s a lot of interest in these areas right now, so take the time to engage with possible buyers now, while the interest is there.

Finally, we’ve also seen a number of awards for technologies to smarten cities, including through intelligent transport solutions, where Warwickshire and Nottingham City Council have awarded a £12.49 million contract to Siemens

Elsewhere in this space,  Durham County Council have awarded Pinacl Solutions UK a framework agreement for provision of free public internet and analytics throughout Bishop Auckland and Stanley Town Centre – the tender specification sought a sole supplier that could build a wireless infrastructure combining the latest technology with innovative software solutions. The contract is due to start in September, so we’ll check in a further down the line to see how this pans out. 

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.