This opportunity is closed for applications

The deadline was Thursday 12 May 2016
Innovate UK

Alpha to replace

0 Incomplete applications

37 Completed applications

28 SME, 9 large

Important dates

Thursday 28 April 2016
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 5 May 2016 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 12 May 2016 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
Exciting project to reimagine a service aimed at innovative small businesses looking to scale up. It will support 150 advisers in the UK who help clients find business partners, source funding, seek patent help and lots in-between. Alpha will look to integrate with Elastic Search, numerous APIs and Salesforce.
Latest start date
ASAP. June 2016 ideally.
Expected contract length
8 weeks
No specific location, eg they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Innovate UK
Budget range
c£100k for people + £7k for tech

About the work

Why the work is being done
Enterprise Europe network (EEN) is a European Commission (EC) programme to help grow start-up businesses with innovative potential.

EEN is a bespoke face-to-face service and Innovate UK lead 150 advisers who help clients find partners, source funding, seek patent help and lots in-between.

EEN's current digital service doesn't fully meet user needs and wouldn't pass a service standard assessment. Its most complex bit is the partnering opportunities ( - profiles of businesses looking for partners to manufacturer, distribute, co-develop or supply what they're doing) which API's from EC and integrates with search, CRM email alerts etc.
Problem to be solved
* Alignment to user needs - IA & UX we can crack to improve conversion, content from advisers CMSing themselves is a challenge (content strategy being implemented)
* SEO visibility a problem with the current service because of ongoing on page issues
* Better CRM - parallel project to implement Salesforce across EEN which'll integrate with the digital service. Our marketing should up the ante considerably as a result
* Assisted digital - no provision in place thus far
* Robust, modular and open source tech stack with abstraction layers in-between components
* Product roadmap - plan for the future
Who the users are and what they need to do
Discovery found we have two user needs; Overarching FUND user need...
"As a business or academic user I want to apply for a funding award so that I can get the financial resource I need to grow my business or develop my concept"

Overarching CONNECT user need...
"As a business or academic user I want to connect with someone to discuss an idea / project so that I can reach other people or organisations to develop my concept further"
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
* Established user needs framework that fall within two themes: connect or fund
* Proposed a technical architecture which meets those needs and service standard requirements
* Usability tested a light prototype which showed a marked improvement to an equivalent exercise conducted on the current service
* Audited existing content which informed our content strategy

We also delved deeper in to Elastic Search as the brains behind the service, as well as Companies House API, postcode lookup and GovDelivery as the potential email/sms alert engine. We also explored the scenario of users not needing a password to use the service.
Existing team
Existing team is x1 Service Manager at Innovate UK. Rest of the alpha team roles (anticipated to be user researcher, technical architect, web ops, developer, visual designer, content designer) will be filled by the supplier(s).
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The team must be located within 2 hours travelling from Bath.
Working arrangements
The service manager will likely travel to the team 3 days per week and be accessible online for the other 2 days. Some members of the team may be required to travel/stay overnight in the UK for research / meetings - though that's not foreseen at present.
Security clearance
We won't be handling sensitive data, so each team member having 'Baseline Personnel Security Standard' is sufficient.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions

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 with elastic search or SOLR (6.5% weighting)
  • UX and user testing credentials (6.5% weighting)
  • On page SEO credentials (6.5% weighting)
  • User research feeding into sprint cycles credentials (6.5% weighting)
  • Experience implementing Salesforce and 3rd party APIs (6.5% weighting)
  • Familiarity with GOV.UK's design patterns and style guide - which we should follow, but not necessarily stick to because of our exemption from GOV.UK and own branding guidelines. (3.25% weighting)
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Experience participating in a service assessment (3.25%weighting)
  • Experience identifying and mitigating risk to digital service (3.25%weighting)
  • Experience of service design (3.25%weighting)

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • The proposed approach and methodology (6.5% weighting)
  • How the approach or solution meets user needs(3.25% weighting)
  • The proposed technical solution (6.5% weighting)
  • Value for money of the proposal (3.25% weighting)
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work as a team with our organisation and other suppliers (10% weighting)
  • Familiar with using Slack and Trello to work, rather than heavy documentation (5% weighting)
Payment approach
Fixed price
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Is there a mobile element to this project?
Yes, in that the site should optimise for mobile, but user need hasn't yet identified anything further.
2. I found out about the webinar too late - will you be publishing notes from this?
Sure. Here are the slides and here's the webinar
3. Have you selected your preferred technology stack, programming languages, frameworks/other systems? If so, what?
Discovery concluded that apache, elastic, drupal, mysql would be sensible tech to work alongside Salesforce, Elastic and the various APIs that are already decided to be part of the tech stack. Other tech choices aren’t set in stone, but would need compelling logic as to why we should choose it over the above. Suppliers should be technology agnostic.
4. Is a Microsoft stack out of the question ie. Azure / Azure Search, SQL Server / Umbraco / .NET CMS?
Could consider, but remember Elastic is an already decided element and demonstrable skills in it are an essential criteria for this procurement
5. Do you have the internal skillsets at EEN to work ongoing with this Microsoft (.NET) oriented technology and, if not, does that lower the chance of a successful bid?
No in-house dev at all at my disposal. If a supplier suggest it, it won’t lower the chance of a successful bid – changing from what was in the tech arch would need to be for compelling reason, however. Suppliers should be technology agnostic.
6. Will the incumbent or any organisation who was involved in the delivering the Discovery Phase also be bidding for the Alpha Phase?
The incumbent won’t be bidding. The 2 discovery suppliers may bid for this alpha work, but their previous engagement doesn’t give them a preferential advantage.
7. Are there any technology constraints? e.g. existing tech to integrate with; preferred tech/platforms?
European Commission’s profile database, Salesforce and Elastic are the only tech constraints. Discovery recommended the rest to work with it. Changing from what was in the tech arch would need to be for compelling reason, however. Suppliers should be technology agnostic.
8. For the user research how do you allocate the cost of fieldwork (travel expenses, overnight stay, lab testing, participant recruitment, incentives etc.)
The c£100k needs to cover team costs, expenses, lab and research participant costs
9. Did the discovery phase give you all the outcomes you wanted?
Yes. The prototype tested very well. Technical architecture makes sense. I’d like EEN to be more digitally progressive, but user need doesn’t yet require it.
10. How many users did you speak to during discovery? Across which sector of activities?
We spoke to 45 users / potential users from numerous sectors. We did pop up research at an environment event and also robotics event. EEN’s sector remit is very broad.
11. Does the budget include VAT?
No. VAT is on top.
12. When you say you've got 7k in the budget for 'technology' do you mean hosting / licensing etc within that. If not, how do you split 100k for people and 7k for tech please?
Yes. £7k for hosting / licensing etc
13. Is there a planned scope for Alpha, or is the aim to develop core features of a minimally featured product to test the features as you go? If there is a planned backlog of features / user stories, can we see it (or is the prototype available)?
I want each element stood up, really, and would be keen to hear your approach to get that done. The brief’s not too complex and the ux learnings from discovery should save us time in alpha. Companies House and Postcode lookup APIs can wait if needed.
14. What method was used to determine the budget?
Roles x anticipated days x day rate
15. What is the current CRM? Are you planning to migrate to another CRM as part of this project?
Current CRM is custom built. We’re migrating to Salesforce (separate project).
16. Can we blend more than one role together for the Alpha e.g. Content Designer and Web/ UX Designer to reduce costs
Sure, within reason. The team will join me for assessment at the end of the project so there needs to be decent representation across the disciplines
17. Do all team members have to always be in Bristol during the 3 days service manager is there
Yes, we always need to be collocated on the agreed days
18. Is it intended that the Tech spend will continue into Beta and should this be hosted on an anticipated Cloud provider
Yes, tech spend should last use for one year and I’ll procure it through gcloud
19. Does the anticipated budget include the use of a lab and user research sessions or is this separate?
The c£100k needs to cover team costs, expenses, lab and research participant costs
20. Please could you also supply a link to the prototype alongside the slides and the recording?
password: testing
21. Do you have wireframes ? Or does the full UX need to be delivered initially before full build?
No wireframes, just the prototype built in Axure
22. How many expected concurrent users do you expect this site to handle?
100. EEN is a small service.
23. Do you plan to host this on AWS/Azure or internally ?
AWS probably
24. Do you plan to host this on AWS/Azure or internally ?
AWS– which I’ll procure directly through gcloud
25. Are you open to using AWS (Amazon Web Services) including Amazon cloud search (based on the same technology as Elastic search)?
AWS will likely be in the tech stack, but there’d need to be good logic as to why we switch from Elastic to Amazon cloud search. Tech needs to be open source and we must avoid lock ins. Suppliers should be technology agnostic.
26. Do you see the web server, database server and app servers (shown on your TA diagram) on sep servers, or on one shared server?
Separate servers, but this is open to challenge. If useful, here’s the first stab at server spec done during discovery:
27. What are the drivers / constraints around the start date, the 8 week timeframe, and completion date; is there any flexibility around these?
Driver around start date is merely desire to push the project along. There could be some flex in start date for the right supplier. 8 weeks is because budget will likely be spent by then. Again, some flex in this if the scope extends as a result.
28. How many active partner profiles are there? A query found 237 for the last week (a greater time period just gives 250+), and there is a reference to 13,000 technology profiles at What growth is expected?
There’s just shy of live 10,000 profiles. They have a shelf life of a year so as new ones come on, old ones drop off or get renewed, so while there’s some growth and decline in the total number, it’ll stay around the 10-15k mark
29. Has Enterprise Europe Network considered purchasing industry taxonomies / ontologies to assist with query expansion for specialist technical terminology?
Definitely worth exploring if it makes it easier for the user. Have a look at ‘advanced options’ in to see other categorisation means. It used market keywords, technology keywords and NACE codes. The tricky thing with these is that there’s constant flux because technology evolves. The reason they’re hidden on the current service is because during guerrilla usability testing, not one participant used it. Perhaps for the service being the small size that it is, free text searching
30. Will all profiles and searchable text be in English?
Yes. Note though, most are written by advisors whose mother tongue isn’t English which makes for local terminology which has slightly different meaning in the UK for example. There is a QA process to improve profile copy, but mistakes still make it through.
31. Some members of staff do not have the Baseline Personnel Security Standard, would it be possible to have them security cleared if we were to win the contract?
It is possible so long confidentially terms are weaved into the contract.
32. Do you know your information architecture and if so could you please provide us your schema?
Don’t have a schema, but by all means work one up in from the prototype
password: testing
33. What availability level is expected for production (e.g. single-server deployment with manual recovery from S3 backup, multi-region with automated failover, or something in between)?
Something in between
34. Do we need to adhere to WC3 AA accessibility standards?
35. Do you require penetration testing?
We’re continuing to test the idea of users not needing a password to interact with the service and using other options instead. We’ll need a decision on it for alpha assessment with evidence to back up why we went that route. Pen testing might be a useful addition to that evidence, but relative to the fact that this is an alpha.
36. Are you looking for a strict Agile build to MVP (minimum viable product) or are we expected to work to fixed scope?
Agile with a lower case a, standing up the tech arch
37. In the assessment method you reference presentation, we presume this is face to face?
Yes. Either Westminster or Swindon, depending what’s easiest for everybody
38. In your response to question 17 - 17. Do all team members have to always be in Bristol during the 3 days service manager is there (Yes, we always need to be collocated on the agreed days). We assume that you only require the service manager to be present 3 days per week and the team members are from your side?
Only person from the client is me, the service manager. I want to be physically with the team for at least 3 days a week and them to carry on working on the project with us keeping in touch through skype etc. The team should be on this around 90% of the time, upping or downing their time depending on where we are in the sprint cycle.
39. Can you please clarify the application process. We've just submitted answers to the yes / no questions. what happens next?
1st stage is to answer the yes / no questions. We’ll review submissions after 12 May and then invite some suppliers to submit written evidence. Following that, 5 suppliers will be invited to present face-to-face.
40. Are you looking for 1 agency to complete this work are you open to consortium bids?
Suppliers can bid for 1) all of the work on their own, 2) subcontract elements or 3) form a consortium with other suppliers on this framework, nominating one supplier as the lead. A full list of the suppliers on the framework is available at Note, we will only consider one supplier with a maximum of 1 other framework partner and 1 subcontracted, non-framework partner.
41. Could you please be more specific in term of the skills that you are looking for? Are you happy to have different resources across different suppliers based on expertise? (e.g. user researcher supplier)
See service manual definitions and yes, happy for the team to come from more than one supplier. Suppliers can bid for 1) all of the work on their own, 2) subcontract elements or 3) form a consortium with other suppliers on this framework, nominating one supplier as the lead. A full list of the suppliers on the framework is available at Note, we will only consider one supplier with a maximum of 1 other framework partner and 1 subcontracted, non-framework partner.
42. Is 2 hours travel from Bath an absolute restriction?
Yes. Bath train station to supplier / lead supplier office.
43. On some procurement we get different lot depending of the skills needed (e.g skill funding agency had procurement with dev supplier design + content agency and separate user research agency
Suppliers need to tender offering the full team, I’m not building the team, so am not looking for user research-only submissions, for example.
44. We would maintain on Office in Bristol but do other work in Wolverhampton so for the 3 days we could be in Bristol
That won't work for this project. The team need to be working on this 90% of the time (upping and downing time depending on where we are in the sprint cycle)
45. How many saved search alerts are set up on the current system? How many alerts are sent out per month?
1307 – saved searches but users have set not to receive emails
107 – email every day
47 – email every 3 days
6817 – email every week