Procuring the cities of tomorrow, today: final preparations underway for Bangor University’s Procurement Week

Delegates from over 30 countries are expected to attend a major international conference organised by Bangor University’s Institute for Competition and Procurement Studies this month.

Organised in partnership with the Welsh Government, Procurement Week 2015 will unite practitioners, regulators and academics from the field of public procurement for a week of lively and stimulating debate.

Since its inception in 2012, Procurement Week has quadrupled in size and established itself as the 'go-to' procurement conference, with over 500 delegates from more than 20 countries attending in 2014.

Confirmed speakers at the this year’s event, which will be held at St David’s Hotel and Spa in Cardiff Bay between 16-20 March, include key figures from the European Commission (DG TRADE and DG INNOVATION), the Welsh Government, Amazon, Microsoft, the World Trade Organisation, George Washington University, Bravosolution, the Procurement Ombudsman of Canada, UNCITRAL Geneva, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Chinese Government.

Procurement Week 2015 kicks off with a procurement-focused careers fair and the Game Changing Exhibition, where innovators will be mentored on how to pitch their innovative products to public buyers – not an easy thing to do in risk averse times. Major purchasers such as Microsoft, the London Fire Brigade and Cardiff City Council will discuss how they go about seeking innovation from their suppliers in order to provide better public services. Exhibitors include the BBC, O2, Nissan and the London Fire Brigade.

Welsh SMEs and startups have enthusiastically welcomed this addition to the 2015 programme, as it promises to bring a new feature to the innovation-selling landscape in Wales, both domestically and internationally.

The biggest draw of the week is expected to be Day 3, which takes a look at Smart Cities projects around the world. Speakers from as far afield as San Francisco, Singapore and Amsterdam will come together for a series of case studies revolving around the themes of infrastructure, transport and mobility, and people and technology.

Professor Dermot Cahill, Chair in Commercial Law at Bangor University Law School and Chairman of the Institute for Competition and Procurement Studies, welcomed the addition of the Smart Cities element to Procurement Week 2015. “It is vital that city authorities take advantage of new technologies, so that Citizen and City develop an enhanced relationship for the betterment of all. Procurement Week 2015 will bring leading world cities to Cardiff to share their experiences with UK city planners and inventors of new ‘city-living’ technologies”.

ICPS Executive Director Gary Clifford is particularly looking forward to two elements of the week. Firstly, the Address by Minister for Finance Jane Hutt, AM, who will Open Day 4 before a packed audience of top UK, EU and international procurement lawyers, addressing significant developments in Wales as it plans to inexorably move towards considering legislating procurement objectives into law.

“Whether Wales is ready to take this step remains to be seen”, observes Gary, who adds that “our research at Bangor over many years confirms this is the way to go, particularly if Wales wants to reflect its unique perspective on procurement and use procurement policy as a vehicle for advancing social progress and socioeconomic objectives”.

Gary's other highlight is the National Procurement Awards, which will round off Procurement Week 2015. Taking place at City Hall on the evening of 20th March, and compered by Lucy Owen, of BBC Wales and with a speech from Welsh Government finance Minister Jane Hutt AM, the Awards recognise the best and brightest in Welsh procurement.

Each day of the week’s programme will be complemented by a social event designed to showcase the very best of Welsh culture, including an International Dinner with the Mayor of Cardiff City at Cardiff Castle.

Thanks to the generous support of the European Union, the Welsh Government and the many sponsors, attendance of the day events is free, although interested parties are encouraged to register as soon as possible to secure one of a limited number of places. To register, visit www.procurementweek.org.uk/.

Publication date: 11 March 2015