Tenders & Subsidies
©Bohmann Photodisc

The Fast eats the Slow!

That’s the motto when you’re looking for public contracts in Austria and Europe. But experts know how it works!

Many Austrian specialised companies have been successful around the globe for many years. Austria’s membership in the EU has facilitated both the access to public contracts from the entire European region, and also from Austria. Nevertheless, many domestic enterprises are still acting as they did before the entry due to traditional patterns.

The European market, however, requires strategic and offensive action. This also implies the use of new information technologies, because the paradigm “The big eats the small” has changed into “The fast eats the slow”. It is the lead in knowledge that is decisive in modern economy. Information has to be quickly available and processed at the same rate.

This becomes especially apparent in the participation in public tenders. This is a huge market in Europe, with about 12 % share in the total gross national product of Europe. Those, who want to profit from this market, in Austria, the neighbouring German-speaking countries and also in Eastern Europe, have to participate in public tenders. This especially applies to water and wastewater technology. Practically all major projects are put out for tender in these fields.

But how does a company learn about tenders in Vienna, Bregenz, Warsaw, Budapest or Munich? And how does it learn about them so fast that it can make an offer in spite of short bidding periods?

Working your way through bureaucracy

It is much easier than you think to get access to necessary information and thus to interesting contracts. All public contracts of a certain size (products and services: ECU 200,000, construction contracts: ECU 5 million) have to be reported to the “Office of Official Publications” (EUR-OP) in Luxembourg. They are subsequently published in the Gazette of the European Community. This gazette is published daily and includes about 700 to 800 tenders per day.

In addition to tenders from the European Union or the European Economic Area, there a GATT tenders, development aid projects, Eastern support programmes, and many others. US and Japanese tenders are published, too. The gazette covers a total of 80 to 100 different countries annually. Some companies are scanning the gazette on their own every day. However, it is easier and cheaper to leave this job to a competent external information agent.

The Information Agency in Graz (the capital of Styria) was licensed as official marketing agent of the EU already in 1993. Upon customer order search programmes are being elaborated that automatically find relevant tenders. These search programmes are installed in the so-called Tenders-Electronic-Daily-Alert Service (TED-Alert) in Luxembourg on the supercomputer of the TED-Alert-Network.

This supercomputer will search for tenders daily. If new tenders are found, the customer receives the desired information already on the day of issue. The information is delivered by fax or email directly to the company computer network. Thus, several thousand public tenders have been passed on to companies in Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

While competitors are still waiting for the printed Gazette to be delivered, TED-Alert customers have already begun with the elaboration of their offer, a start that can be decisive especially in accelerated procedures.

Since there are no fixed subscription fees, the customer only pays for actually transmitted tenders, which also allows smaller companies the access to all European tenders.

A start through data-processed search

The major advantage of TED-Alert is its ability to exactly filter out the information that is actually needed. The search may include certain products (e. g. valves) or entire product groups (e.g. everything in the field of wastewater plants), it may be restricted to certain countries or cover the entire globe. Hidden part-lots and subcontracts, that otherwise may be overlooked, can also be discovered.

The number of products, that are put out for tender, is remarkable. In 1998, there were about 180,000 publications in this field. The customers of TED-Alert come from many different sectors of the economy. Numerous companies, from large internationally operating industries to medium-sized enterprises and one-man businesses are already using this service. An engaged violin maker in Graz, who exports his instruments to the whole world, is among the customers of the Graz Information Agency, as well as European-wide operating computer sellers, or planning offices solely interested in domestic, Austrian tenders.

Even when a company is not interested in bidding itself, it can use the delivered data for establishing new business relations. In addition to tenders, the contracts awarded, the price and the contractor are published, too. This information is an important marketing instrument. A blasting company, for example, may find companies charged with road and tunnel constructions who again may be potential customers of the blasting company. An archive data bank of the EU, that allows access to information on contracts of the past years, has proven especially important in this context.

The EU-Gazette is the central medium, where tenders above a certain limit have to be published. Publication in the EU-Gazette, more precisely in Supplement S, may replace a national invitation of tenders. Some tenders, especially in the field of energy, water, transport and telecommunication are not even published at home.

They only appear in the EU-Gazette in Luxembourg. These contracts, especially important to building fitters, are subject to the so-called sectors guidelines, obliging also private companies to put out tenders publicly. The Austrian municipal heating projects, for example, or water supply works may be downloaded from us via TED-Alert, even when the tender has not been made public in Austria itself. Therefore, this service is of great importance especially for the domestic market.

Austrian companies have to seize opportunities

It is amazing that many companies underestimate their chances in public tenders. This is also the reason why only one or two offers are often made. Sometimes there is not even one single offer for a tender published in the whole of Europe, even in cases of very interesting and profitable contracts.

Another advantage of bidding in public tenders is that the company becomes known to public clients. This adds to the chance to be considered in smaller tenders or tenders by private contracts.

For many companies this opportunity is as important as being awarded a major contract. Another aspect must not be neglected: the risk that bills are not paid equals almost nil. Bills in public contracts might be paid late, but, if the contract has been fulfilled properly, they are always paid. Unfortunately, this is often not the case in private contracts.

In cooperation with the EU Office of Official Publications the Information Agency in Graz is able to give an opportunity to practically any kind of enterprise to participate in this attractive market with TED-Alert. Medium-size and small enterprises are able to use an instrument, that has been reserved for the big until recently.

Professional information supply, however, also includes the search for potential partners with whom it might be easier to fulfil tender requirements. It is essential that the necessary information is available fast, no matter if one is dealing with public tenders, world-wide patent protection or “only” with addresses; no matter if scientific literature, a supplier of sunflower oil from the Ukraine, or a telephone number from Southern Pakistan are looked for; and no matter, if data banks have to be conventionally searched.

Supply of information should be left to experts in this new business field, to the so-called info-brokers. The well-known saying still applies: The most expensive information is the one that you don’t have.
(Source: aqua press Int. 01/1999)
Dipl. Ing. Jürgen Weigl

Information & Contact:
Dipl.Ing. Jürgen A. Weigl
Büro für Informationsvermittlung,
Kärntner Straße 212
A-8053 Graz
Tel. +43 316 28 73 50
Fax +43 316 28 73 50-12

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