We spoke last week to Gary Clifford and Professor Dermot Cahill of the Institute of Competition and Procurement Studies (ICPS) at the University of Bangor in Wales about the forthcoming Procurement Week in Wales.
It is held from March 16th to 20th in Cardiff, at the excellent St Davids Hotel & Spa, in Cardiff Bay. It is now certainly one of – in fact, probably the most extensive public procurement events in Europe. Over five days of a conference-type programme, plus social events and the Welsh Procurement Awards on the Friday evening, it is going to cover a wide and impressive range of procurement-related topics, speakers and debate. Last year over 600 people from 21 countries attended, and the team expect this year to be bigger than ever.
There is an excellent brochure – it is really a magazine in its own right – available now here on the procurement week website. And we’re not just praising it because it has an article from me in it, honestly! The “randomly” chosen pictures from last year’s event on page 7 are also recommended.
Day One – “Recruit, Train and Retain”, is an interesting departure for a conference like this. It is focused on careers in procurement, and is aimed at three main audiences – young people (mainly students) who are considering making procurement their career; people in employment who are thinking of moving into procurement; and organisations / people with an interest in recruitment and development of procurement professionals. Some of the largest employers in Wales from the public sector will be represented and speaking, and Tania Seary, founder of Procurious, is one of the keynote speakers.
Tuesday sees the “Game Changing Exhibition in Public Service Innovation’ – the “perfect platform for innovative individuals or leading companies to showcase their designs/products/services to a national and international ‘buying’ audience.”
The core conference programme then runs from Wednesday to Friday. Wednesday has the enticing title of “Procuring the Cities of Tomorrow, Today”! The topics will look at the latest thinking and development in areas such as Infrastructure, Transport, & Mobility, People & Technology. I’m probably going to be chairing one of the workstream sessions, and I’m really looking forward to this. Over time, more and more of the European population live in cities, and yet in parallel the pressure on budgets makes it clear that public authorities won’t have unlimited money to throw around.
So the challenge is to find creative and effective ways of using what public money there is (and indeed private money too if it can be appropriately channelled) in order to improve life in cities for millions of people. This is a huge issue for the 21st century. And procurement clearly has a major part to play in that task. “On the day, Microsoft will be talking about their CityNext future cities initiative, and we have case studies from San Francisco as well as speakers from the European Commission, plus leading practitioners with practical stories to tell”, says Clifford.
Thursday is focused around the principles of procurement, European Law, and the new directives, including key issues such as pre-commercial engagement, and “how to self-clean yourself”! Sounds fascinating if slightly worrying. And Friday sees innovation come to the fore with “Fenceless Fences: Re-drafting the Boundaries of Procurement Innovation.”
We will be back with more about the detailed programme and speakers shortly. But “the social programme is important too”, explains Cahill. “With more and more delegates coming from a range of countries, the evening events give everyone a good chance to network and meet other delegates”. So we have a Welsh Whiskey tasting evening – sacrilege to any Scottish delegates of course – a “Pub Talk” evening, as well as more formal dinners, including an International Dinner at Cardiff Castle with the Mayor of Cardiff as special guest.
Amazingly, attendance at the working sessions is free, “due to the generous support of the European Union, the Welsh Government and our many sponsors. However, places are limited to ensure that the quality of the sessions are optimised for participants and that the opportunity for audience interaction is maximised, so please book your place as soon as possible to avoid disappointment”. (The social programme however is not free, you won’t be surprised to learn)!
We hope to see lots of our Spend Matters readers in Cardiff in late March, and do take a look at the brochure here.