Identify business opportunities through UK tender portals

Tender portals are useful tools to identify and influence both upcoming projects and the responsible decision makers within public sector projects. They also serve to identify potential partners and customers after a service and design or construction work has been awarded to a consultant or a contractor, for example.

Identifying opportunities

Register on all the e-tendering portals used by local authorities investigating district heating in order to stay up to date with opportunities in the public sector. A good starting point is to identify local authorities that receive support from the Heat Networks Delivery Unit, HNDU. Check out the list of local authorities here.

You can also register on e-tendering portals as a way of showing your interest as a sub-contractor or supplier. The local authorities may circulate your sub-contracting interests to principal contract bidders.

Another way to identify potential partners and customers for equipment suppliers is to map who has been awarded closed tenders. Many of the available e-tendering portals have a contract register where you can find out who was awarded a principal contractor role in a specific project.

Submitting bids

Luke Thomas, adviser to Nordic Heat, suggests that social aspects such as local employment and general benefits to the local community are important to highlight when submitting a public tender. George Dobson from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, BEIS, emphasises the importance of a clear and to the point answer when submitting a tender, as well as avoiding excessive sales or buzz words.

Mr Dobson also advocates the importance of demonstrating added value, as it is often a key consideration in tenders rather than price. Even as a subcontractor; you can demonstrate the added value you will bring to a principal contractor in a project. Added value options for contractors could include:

  • Using local subcontractors and labour
  • Using local authority labour and services e.g. civils work, trenching, highways, contaminated land, clerk of works
  • Training of local authority or local people on pipe inspections and maintenance, for example
  • Highlighting your company’s specific expertise or experience, hence your unique selling points (USPs)
  • Ideas for additional products or services beyond the project scope that would result in financial and operational benefits

Tender portals in the UK

Generally, there are two types of tenders in the UK. One is called Higher Value Tenders/OJEU tenders and the other is called Lower Value Tenders.

OJEU tenders

A tender is categorised as an Official Journal of the European Union, OJEU, tender if its value is above a certain procurement threshold. The current OJEU thresholds are £164 thousand for Services and Design and £4.1 million for Construction Work. The EU procurement regulations apply to all UK public sector authorities, including government departments, local authorities, the NHS, universities, emergency services and certain utility companies operating in the energy, transport, and water sectors. OJEU tenders can be found for example at Tenders Electronic Daily, TED or through a subscription at Tenders Direct.

Lower Value Tenders

Tenders below the OJEU threshold values are not published in the OJEU and are sometimes known as lower value tenders. Public sector tenders that fall below the OJEU thresholds still need to be publically advertised. Lower value tender opportunities can be an excellent route for SMEs into the public sector market. There are several portals for lower value tenders in the UK, some of which are listed below.

Examples of tender portals

Contracts Finder
Contracts Finder is the UK government tender portal. It collects information about open, closed and awarded tenders for district heating and CHP Service and design contracts as well as constructing contracts across the public sector in the UK. Free to register for tender alerts.

Barbour ABI 
Barbour ABI is a leading provider of construction intelligence and lead generation services. The platform helps you target new customers and generate new business opportunities from the construction sector.

Public Contracts Scotland
Learn about the contract details with Scottish Local Authorities, NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government, for example, by browsing the available contracts. It is free to register for tender alerts.

Sell to Wales
Learn about the contract details in the Wales public sector, including Local Authorities, NHS Wales, the Wales Government, Higher and Further Education, by browsing the available contracts. It is free to register for tender alerts.

Bravo Solutions 
Learn about the contract details in Northern Ireland’s public sector local authorities. It is free to register for tender alerts.

London Tenders Procurement Portal 
The London Tenders Portal is the public sector procurement portal for the London boroughs listed in the navigation panel. It is free to register for tender alerts.

South East Business Portal 
Information about existing contracts and upcoming tenders across 70 councils in the South East region.

Kent Business Portal
Information about existing contracts, tendering and subcontracting opportunities for Medway and Kent Councils as well as Kent Fire & Rescue.

London Contracts Register 
Read about contract details held by most local authorities in the Greater London Area. The portal also allows you to identify the incumbent supplier and search for contracts due for renewal.

Housing Procurement Portal 
A tender portal for housing associations’ contract opportunities.

NHS Supply Chain 
The portal for contract opportunities with the NHS.


More information

Sweden is at the forefront of decentralised heat networks technology. Our aim for  “Heat Networks – Sustainability by Sweden” is to facilitate knowledge sharing between British and Swedish stakeholders and develop and encourage environmental and economic best practice.

To find out how we can help you and your organisation,  please  contact our London-based “Heat Networks” team. We can introduce you to leading consultants, suppliers of technology and services who will be pleased to share know-how of the development of heat network solutions.

Get our newsletter