Letter from Chairperson to MLAs regarding motion on Small Business Research Initiative

Patsy McGlone MLA

Chairperson
Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment

To ALL MLA’s

21 November 2012

Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Motion

At its meeting on 8th November 2012, the Committee for Enterprise, Trade & Investment agreed to table a motion for debate in plenary on the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI).  The debate will take place on Monday 26 November at 2.50pm (indicative time).  The terms of the motion are as follows:

“That this Assembly calls upon the Executive to actively promote and raise awareness and understanding of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) across the public sector; and further calls upon the Executive to put in place appropriate measures to increase uptake of the SBRI by Departments and the wider public sector to help stimulate and drive innovation, especially in local micro-businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises.”

The SBRI is a means of Government procurement by which public sector organisations procure solutions to specific problems rather than tendering for products or services.  The SBRI is administered by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) which is an NDPB established by the Westminster Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.  Through the SBRI, the TSB provides support for businesses to develop innovative solutions to problems within Government and to bring appropriate solutions to market.  Intellectual Property remains with the company which can often be in a position to avail of wider export opportunities resulting from the end product.

The SBRI is particularly suited to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and is therefore appropriate for many of our local businesses.  Indeed, local businesses have been very successful in tendering for contracts under the SBRI in Britain.  I have attached a case study from one such successful contract to give you an idea of the sort of solution that can be procured under SBRI.    The SBRI is a key driver of innovation among SMEs and the Committee considers it important that our local companies have opportunities to avail of funding under the scheme.

The key issue for the Committee is that, although many of our local companies have been successful in Britain, the SBRI is not being used by Government departments or the public sector here.  This represents a significant missed opportunity for businesses here.  The Committee has commissioned Assembly Research on the SBRI other papers are linked on the Committee website. A full copy of the Information Brief has also been deposited in the Assembly Library.

I look forward to a meaningful and informative debate in the Assembly on this very important and pressing matter.

Yours sincerely

Mr Patsy McGlone MLA
Chairperson
Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment

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