LONDON, England – Heathrow has launched a series of commitments to guarantee SME involvement in future work at the airport as well as a competition for a business to win a £5,000 development grant.
The commitments are the latest output from the long-standing collaboration between Heathrow, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Chambers of Commerce across the country, to increase the number of SMEs who benefit directly and indirectly from the economic opportunities provided by the UK’s only hub airport.
It is hoped that this current initiative, #SMEptember, will further promote the value SMEs provide to supply chains and trade across the country.
Heathrow’s five SME guarantees are:
1. Develop the successful Heathrow Business Summits across the UK. These bring together SMEs with Heathrow’s procurement team and the airport’s principal suppliers.
2. As a signatory to the Prompt Payment Code, ensure suppliers are paid on time and ensure this practice flows down through the airports supply chain into SMEs.
3. Establish a new Innovation Networking Forum to reach out to SMEs and start-up organisations in the innovation and technology sector.
4. Offer SMEs access to the millions of international passengers at Heathrow, by brokering deals between stockists and World Duty Free and other retail tenants.
5. Establish a grants programme offering awards up to £2k for SMEs to spend on travel and trade missions to help SMEs reach new markets.
#SMEptember comes as the airport prepares to celebrate 20 years of its successful Business Summit, which give SMEs throughout the UK the opportunity to get a foot in the door and capitalise on the business opportunities available through Heathrow’s supply chain. During that time Heathrow has spent billions on capital development projects across the airport including building brand new terminals 2 and 5, and Heathrow’s use of SMEs has risen, so that they now make up a third of the airport’s Tier 1 supply chain.
Heathrow and FSB will showcase the work of SMEs from across the UK via social media channels – including examples such as Gourmets Choice Ltd in Portsoy, Scotland, a 5th generation family owned and managed company producing smoked salmon for the past 108 years and LC Energy Ltd in Guildford, which develops renewable energy products.
FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said:
“We’re delighted to partner with Heathrow on SMEptember in the launch of the SME guarantees and to celebrate the great ingenuity of UK small businesses – not least in helping to build Heathrow.”
“FSB has long campaigned for smaller business to have better access and support to allow them to bid for large infrastructure projects – both as suppliers to larger contractors, and for direct delivery of specific parts of the project. A cornerstone of our support for Heathrow expansion as recommended by the Airports Commission is the guarantee that smaller firms will play a big role in this process when the project is finally given the green light”
Heathrow Procurement Director Ian Ballentine said:
“For us at Heathrow – SMEs are the often unseen and untold success stories that make up our supply chain. We know the crucial role they play in building the world-leading infrastructure here at the airport and how they use that work to provide jobs and growth in their own regions and communities.”
“Working effectively with SMEs is key to a sustainable supply-chain. We know from our experience that SMEs bring innovation and great ideas to airport design and passenger service. Expanding our Business Summits and opening the door to innovation will guarantee SMEs across the UK have access to works and services via our strategic partners.”
It’s estimated that in the UK, SMEs account for over 99% of all private sector businesses, employ over 15 million people, and generate a combined annual turnover of over £1 trillion (Source: Department for Business, Innovation & Skills via FSB, 2015).
The £5,000 grant competition will run from 1 September until 27 September and is open to all UK SMEs*. To enter, businesses need to, in 500 words or less, describe their business and what they would do with the development grant.
The competition will be judged by a representative each from FSB, Enterprise Nation, North East Chamber of Commerce, and Heathrow.