This opportunity is closed for applications

The deadline was Friday 23 April 2021
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Help to Grow Subsidy Discovery

23 Incomplete applications

21 SME, 2 large

35 Completed applications

25 SME, 10 large

Important dates

Friday 9 April 2021
Deadline for asking questions
Friday 16 April 2021 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Friday 23 April 2021 at 11:59pm GMT


Off-payroll (IR35) determination
Summary of the work
BEIS require a team to conduct a discovery for the voucher element of the Help to Grow Digital Scheme in line GDS standards. We expect visuals to be produced to illustrate the various user journeys throughout the phase. Potential for extension for alpha.
Latest start date
Monday 24 May 2021
Expected contract length
Up to 5 months
No specific location, for example they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Budget range
Contract will be call-off with statements of work (SoW) issued against phases. There may be potential for an additional SoW for an alpha phase extension, there is no commitment, only commitment for first SOW for discovery and ~3 knowledge sharing sessions post-discovery
We estimate the discovery work can be delivered within the budget range of £140,000 to £170,000 excl VAT.
Max contract value will be £570,000 to accommodate for alpha extension if applicable.

About the work

Why the work is being done
The Chancellor announced Help to Grow: Digital at Budget 2021 on 3 March (, the scheme will be launched this autumn. One of the objectives is to tackle the financial barriers SMEs face in successfully adopting productivity-enhancing digital technologies by providing a financial incentive to purchase digital technology.

Scheme design is to be finalised but will likely be a technology voucher (or grant) for ~100,000 SMEs to receive a discount on the cost of a technology product from a pre-approved list for up to 1 year. The voucher will be available to UK businesses with between five and 249 employees that have been trading for more than 12 months. The voucher will initially provide financial discounts to SMEs for digital customer relationship management, accountancy and e-commerce solutions.

Separate to the voucher services and this outcome, but pertinent to the context of the voucher scheme User Journey as part of this discovery, work is also underway to design and build a new online platform for SMEs to get advice on how technology can boost their performance as part of the overall Help to Grow:Digital Scheme
Problem to be solved
Need to understand prioritised user needs the scheme’s voucher element building out from MVP expected to launch in autumn to make it easy for (1) software vendors to have their products added to a pre-approved list (2) SMEs to apply for vouchers and (3) scheme administrator manage matching and redemptions. The first two are likely to be public-facing digital services fit for purpose in terms of usability, accessibility, fraud controls and compliance with GDS service standards. Discovery needs to map out potential data and funding flows between all users and journeys. Commercial decisions have yet to be made regarding if digital design and delivery and voucher administration will be tendered ie single work package or broken down or built/bought.

As software vendors will need to be added to the pre-approved listed prior to SME's being able to select their solution and redeem their vouchers, the Outcomes team will need to provide insight on vendor user needs and journey earlier in the phase to assist the policy team in testing their scheme design assumptions.

Emerging findings throughout discovery will feed into policy thinking, with significant senior stakeholder interest, service design thinking must be presented throughout the phase visually (mock-ups etc)
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a SME, I need to
• identify if I am eligible
• understand what technology products are available and their benefits so I can make a purchasing decision.
As a software vendor, I need to
• know what the vendor eligibility criteria is
• apply have products added to the pre-approved list and be onboarded.
• accept the subsidy issued to SMEs, so I can provide the respective software.
• Understand how subsidy money is redeemed from HMG
As the body administrating the scheme, I need to
• be able to ingest data of software vendors seeking to have their products added to the pre-approved list and the SME's applying for subsidy so that vendors can be onboarded, SME's can apply and be issued with subsidy, and subsidy redemption monitored.
As a BEIS policy official I need
• to know volumes of applications and a breakdown of redemptions by product and software provider and types of business to assist in design of future waves
• understand potential for fraud and misuse
• what stage in the journey vendors and applicants are at (so we can identify if we have blockages / points of high drop off in the journeys)
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
9,108 SMEs have registered their interest in the programme between 03 and 30 March through entering some basic details in an online form .

The policy team will have sourced a number of potential users from SMEs and software vendors to participate in user research for the discovery and may be able to have some grant administrators available to act as a proxy for the supplier(s) designing and delivering the digital elements and administration of the vouchers. System process requirements will be available by the time the discovery team starts.
Existing team
SRO, a policy deputy director acting as Service Owner and policy officials who will be involved on the discovery on a part time basis. These officials will also be working on scheme design.
BEIS Digital will provide a Digital Delivery Manager to connect the successful discovery supplier to digital governance and assurance, the discovery supplier needs to provide their own Delivery Manager for the phase.
Should an extension be issued for alpha phase the supplier may be working with other suppliers.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Though the team will be working remotely there may be a need to travel to the 1 Victoria Street HQ in London for occasional workshops. Travel expenses will not be reimbursed
Working arrangements
The supplier staff will be expected to be available during the typical working hours of policy team (Monday to Friday 9:30am-5pm) in order to maximise knowledge transfer.

We require the supplier to hold agile ceremonies as well as weekly ‘show and tell’ sessions for BEIS stakeholders which will take place over MS Teams
Security clearance
All individuals must have BPSS as a minimum.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
All suppliers are obliged to provide sufficient guarantees to implement appropriate technical and organisational measures so that the processing meets the requirements of GDPR and ensures the protection of the rights of data subjects. For further information please see the Information Commissioner's Office website

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Essential skills and experience
  • Experience of designing and/or delivering a service relating to grants or vouchers (4%)
  • Experience of delivering a digital service in line with the GDS Service Standard and Design Principles (3%)
  • Experience of distilling outcomes from user-needs led research into findings and conclusions, selecting most appropriate ways to present these throughout the phase (4%)
  • Experience of successfully defining a Minimum Viable Product for a compressed delivery timetable and prioritised roadmap for additional user stories as part of ambitious product vision (4%)
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Experience of working on a service where Small and Medium Enterprises were a user group (3%)
  • Experience of capturing the user needs from organisations representative of a user group who may potentially form part of the supply chain of subsequent phases of project/programme delivery (2%)

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Describe approach and methodology you will apply to Discovery, including how priorities will be determined & emerging findings presented(15%)
  • Describe the final outputs you will provide as part of the discovery report (5%)
  • Provide a project plan with a detailed timeline including milestones for key deliverables and resource allocated for each sprint (10%)
  • Describe your Team structure, including estimated number of days per resource dedicated to project and relevant experience of all team members (15%)
  • Demonstrate how you will identify risk, assumptions, and dependencies, and how you will manage these (5)
Cultural fit criteria
  • Demonstrate a user-driven approach, using research and evidence to challenge underlying assumptions and present findings in a way decision makers can easily digest (5%)
  • Work in an agile/iterative approach with policy makers with limited bandwith taking a show rather then just tell approach, to help them make informed decisions (5%)
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Can you please advise the timelines of this procurement (e.g. shortlisted companies notified, anticipated contract award)? Also, can you confirm if shortlisted suppliers will have the opportunity to present?
Provisional timetable
Shortlisted suppliers notified invited to submit proposal 28 April
Proposals due back from shortlisted suppliers 5th May
Supplier Presentations 7th and/or 10th May
Contract process starting 10th May.
2. What is the discovery and alpha split in the up to 5 month contract duration and how likely is the alpha to proceed
Discovery is expected to take 6 weeks
Alpha is expected to take 10-12 weeks
We would like to proceed to alpha subject to approvals, suppliers need to be able to stand up alpha team for this requirement
3. Please can the authority confirm the scoring criteria and weightings of the evidence provided at qualification stage?
Please refer to Skills and experience section which contains stage 1 weightings in brackets next to Essential skills and experience & Nice-to-have skills and experience criteria. Each criteria is scored individually from 0-3.
4. Which roles will be on the panel to score the evidence, proposals, and presentations?
Policy Officials involved in the scheme plus DDaT Specialist in User Centred Design and DDaT Specialist in Delivery Management
5. Experience of distilling outcomes from user-needs led research into findings and conclusions, selecting most appropriate ways to present these throughout the phase’... Do you mean throughout the Discovery phase specifically?
It is up to the supplier to provide evidence that best reflects the requirement at hand, noting the question does refer to a phase.
6. Who from your team will be scoring applications for this opportunity and what positions do they hold?
Policy Officials involved in the scheme plus DDaT Specialist in User Centred Design and DDaT Specialist in Delivery Management
7. Has any external supplier supported in the preparation of this Discovery?
8. ‘Experience of capturing the user needs from organisations representative of a user group who may potentially form part of the supply chain of subsequent phases of project/programme delivery’… Does this mean: ‘Experience of capturing the user needs of organisations that may provide their products via the service, once it is built’?
That will be in scope under user research with software vendors. We are unsure at this stage if an external scheme administrator type function will be required as part of scheme delivery but would want to conduct some user research with this type of user group in discovery phase.
9. Re: Experience of designing and/or delivering a service relating to grants or vouchers (4%)
Please advise if creating a) booking /application / intranet forms led by business rules and/or databse validation checks led by business rules would qualify for this requirement.
The experience requested is for a service related to grants or vouchers so the response needs to be set out in that context ie if what you described was either designed or delivered or transposed to a grant or voucher service