“There can be a lot of good intent from people within innovation departments, but also a lack of joined up thinking in authorities when it comes to public sector procurement,” he added.
Hamish Geddes, Co-founder of software developer Lenz Labs said that ‘visibility’ was a challenge for many small companies: getting clients to see the potential of new technology on offer.
Programmes such as TRIG offer a greater chance to secure a spot on a local authority framework, he added, but “at that point you need to jump into the commercial landscape and have commercial conversations. It can be a lot of work and take a lot of time.”
Transport technology scale-up VivaCity’s Head of Growth & Partnerships, Flora McFarlane said a lack of standardised processes within large organisations procuring services presented a big challenge to small firms. She added that one significant learning in the years following its TRIG funding was the need to understand fully the requirements of end users at all times.
“It is not always the heads of innovation or service owners you should focus on, but those using the tools or working with the product you provide,” she advised. Small technology companies need to “understand the pain” of end users and know how their solutions can solve problems.
University of Leeds’ Ventures Manager, Luke Watson told the event: “The biggest issue we currently face is the challenging economic market. Venture capitalists are asking for more advanced commercial validation points for less money than they did previously.
“Securing funding is challenging for nascent technologies; without validation it is difficult to get investment. Specifically in the field of transport, one spin-out company from the university had a validated technology, and it took them five years to get a contract.”