Canadian Manufacturing

How to compete for federal contracts

by Matt Powell    

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Online tools make business dealings with the feds more accessible

TORONTO‑The Innovation Synergy Centre (ISCM) in Markham hosted about 30 small business owners from the GTA yesterday in a seminar outlining how to do business with the Canadian government.

The ISCM is a not-for-profit business mentoring organization made up of independent advisors and chaired by Markham mayor, Frank Scarpitti.

It is currently in the process of changing its name to Venture Lab, hoping to increasingly help entrepreneurs get to market by increasing its visibility across Ontario’s regional borders. The organization has made an application to be part of the Ontario Centre for Excellence, in order to gain more access to content and resources across Ontario’s regional markets.

Now, new online initiatives should help make dealings with the government more transparent and increasingly accessible for private business owners to bid on federal contracts.


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A number of major federal organizations play a key role in identifying suppliers for government projects, starting with the Public Works and Government Services of Canada (PWGSC) that helps those departments define the goods and services they need.

PWGSC acts as a regulator for directing companies towards government contracts, identifying projects based on dollar amount.

The Government Electronic Tendering Service (GETS) is an on-line system that advertizes government contracting opportunities to potential bidders. GETS is operated by Mediagrif Interactive Technologies Inc. as MERX, which provides the service to the federal government under a contract.

MERX deals with contracts for all sectors of the economy, including construction, aerospace and custom manufacturing.

Paul Rivett, director of client services at the ISCM said the seminar has opened the eyes of small business owners to increased transparency in dealing with the government.

“Having options like these contracts with the governments are crucial, especially at a time when the economy is recovering like it is now,” he said.

He added that a lot of consultants and manufacturers have expressed a lot of frustration selling their goods and services to the government because the process wasn’t user friendly.

Companies interested in becoming a supplier for the federal government are required to register their business on PWGSC’s “Buy and Sell” website. Suppliers will be required to submit their Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and business registrations numbers (BN).

In PWGSC, bid opportunities for most requirements worth $25,000 or more are advertised on MERX , including requirements subject to international trade agreements.

Online efforts are also being anchored by a $40‑million investment in the Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program (CICP).

CICP was created to help innovators bridge the pre-commercialization gap for products and services by awarding contracts through open, transparent and fair procurement processes to entrepreneurs with pre-commercial innovations.


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