How to work with the University

Hints and tips for suppliers looking to work with the University of Bristol.  

  • Register your business on our e-tendering portal – we issue our tenders via this e-portal.  If you aren’t registered correctly, you won’t be able to access the tender documents or bid for opportunities.
  • The University of Bristol is a ‘sub-central contracting authority’ for the purposes of the Public Contract Regulations (2015).  We therefore utilise Contracts Finder and TED to publish contract notices for many opportunities.  (Both of these websites are free to use – there is no need to pay anyone to let you know of opportunities within the public sector).  Follow any instructions for tendering in these contract notices.
  • Where appropriate, we make use of frameworks from the SUPC or CCS, among others.  Are you on any frameworks, or are there any you can bid for?
  • Research the University of Bristol to get a better understanding of its both its history and future strategy.
  • Be aware of our commitment to Social Value.
  • Read the background, scope and specification in any tender to decide if it really is something you can provide.  There are also rules and requirements of the tender that you need to understand and follow.
  • When reviewing a tender opportunity, the weightings given to various aspects of the requirement indicate how important those things are to the University.  This should inform you where to focus efforts in your tender reply.  Some requirements might also be mandatory or pass / fail – can you answer those satisfactorily?
  • When replying to a tender, read and understand the questions.  Then answer the questions!  Provide all the information asked for, in the format asked for, and nothing more.
  • If you do not hold a certificate (an ISO for example) or have a policy on a topic, and we are asking for them, don’t panic!  Check the question again to see if working towards a standard will be good enough.  Often it is the attitude towards a subject and willingness to change that is important so holding a certificate might not be mandatory.
  • Be honest and don’t try to hide anything in an answer.
  • Be positive!  For example, if you are a member of an association or registered with a tool such as Netpositive Futures, explain the benefits these bring rather than just listing them.
  • Often there will be a word or character limit on answers, or we will provide space for attachments to back up answers.  Be aware of this and only provide additional or back up information as asked for - we will only evaluate the answers and evidence we have asked for.
  • If providing additional documents, make it as easy as possible for us to find the right information.  If it is a long document you are providing, for example, can you reference a page or section to make the relevant part easy to find?
  • If you have ‘stock answers’ for tenders, make sure they are still relevant to the University and that you aren’t accidently naming the organisation you previously tendered to!
  • Make sure you provide the correct price or financial answers.  Are we asking for a price per item, an overall cost, the annual cost or a percentage discount for example?
  • Don’t submit unsustainable prices!  We usually ask prices to be held for a certain period of time and we don’t like unexpected price rises during a contract period.
  • Tenders are usually issued with University terms and conditions and we will expect to trade on our terms.  The time to query these is not as we are about to award a contract to you, so please submit any questions during the tender period.
  • If you are an existing supplier, do not assume we know all about you and your service.  Treat the tender as a new opportunity and be sure to note any changes to the service you already provide.
  • Don’t leave submitting a response to the last minute!  Know the deadline date and time, and allow plenty of time to upload or provide your answers.  Tenders received after the deadline will be dismissed as non-compliant and will not be evaluated.
  • We may hold post tender discussions at the University with several tendering suppliers. The tender will detail any such meeting.  Make sure you are aware of the date and location of these from the tender documents, and if you are asked to attend ensure that the right people attend with the relevant information. Note that the University does not have any onsite parking.  There are nearby public car parks and we are well connected to public transport in the centre of Bristol.  Know how you are going to get to the University and allow plenty of travel time.

If you have any technical problems using the e-tendering portal, contact the BravoSolution helpdesk using the number on the portal’s homepage. We have compiled a short e-tendering portal user guide for suppliers to cover the main points - E-tendering portal user guide (PDF, 527kB). If technical problems persist, and you are concerned about missing a deadline, contact the Procurement contact for advice.

Small businesses in Bristol and the surrounding area may find the West of England Growth Hub useful as an organisation that can provide you advice, guidance and networking opportunities.

If you are unsure of anything explained or asked for in a tender, please use the messaging facility in the e-tendering portal to ask a question. This is how we require queries to be raised during a tender. If an answer is pertinent to all tendering parties, we will answer to everyone, or if it is something individual to you, we will only reply to you.

If you are already a supplier to the University, there are resources available here to explain how to invoice and how to work with us to beat procurement fraud.

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