Practical tips

Research facilities around Europe make large purchases of equipment and services, and submitting tenders can be attractive. Requirement levels are high, and supplying equipment and services to these eminent organisations is a merit.

Procurement rules vary between different facilities. Some apply their own country’s rules for public procurement, while others, such as CERN, have their own procurement rules. ESS applies the rules that apply for the ERIC organisation type, developed for research facilities in the EU. MAX IV, also located in Lund, is a facility owned by Lund University that uses the university’s framework agreements, and carries out its own procurements according to the Swedish Public Procurements Act (LOU).

Some key tips when submitting tenders

Read everything carefully

Read through all the procurement documentation to form an impression of what the facility needs and what terms and conditions apply. Look carefully to see whether the documentation concerns a ‘Request for Information’, a ‘Market Survey’, an ‘Invitation to Tender’ or a ”Request for Quotation’, or whether it is some other type of document. Different facilities use different titles for the invitations.

Specific procurement rules

Read the procurement rules for the facility concerned, to familiarise yourself with the process. For some procurements, any company may submit a tender, while other facilities may use a pre-qualification procedure.

Identify questions at an early stage

Identify at an early stage all the questions you need to ask the facility staff, and then contact the representative to ask your questions. During a procurement process, most facilities are compelled to make the answers to any questions available to all tenderers, so all other companies submitting tenders can also see the answers to your questions.

Check the selection rules

When pricing, consider the selection rules for tenders. If the procurement rules state that the facility must choose the lowest bid, you should set your price as low as possible. If the rules state best value for money, where value is based on quality, a company with a highly valued offer can set their price in relation to this higher quality. In cases where the tendering process is a pre-qualification to a negotiation stage, set the price at a level that gives you a good chance of reaching the negotiation stage, but leaving a margin with which to negotiate.