Submitting tender applications for research activity
If you are planning to submit a tender involving research activity where the University will be the lead or a subcontractor, please make your local Research Services team aware of this as soon as possible. Research Services will support researchers in completing tenders that relate to their research activity, assisting with the documentation, advise on budgets and liaise with the Contracts Team to review all tender terms and conditions.
What are tenders?
A tender is a formal offer to carry out a stated piece of work for an agreed fixed price. Tenders are usually in response to an invitation to bid called an invitation to tender (ITT). An ITT is a procurement route through which a ‘buyer’ invites ‘suppliers’ to submit a bid to provide specified ‘services’; where the ‘services’ comprise research activity, the tender must be reviewed by Research Services prior to submission.
How are tenders different to other research projects?
Tenders are different to standard applications for research funding in that if the funder accepts an initial tender proposal the applicant will be legally bound to deliver the work submitted in the tender and for the quoted price.
An expression of interest (EOI) can precede an ITT but these are not tenders and are not legally binding. EOIs are used by customers to gain an understanding of the type and level of expertise on offer. EOIs are also sometimes used to shortlist bidders for a particular ITT.
What is the tender application process?
Each tender process is different depending on the contract in question and how the buyer needs to evaluate the bidder.
The tender documents will set out all the information necessary for submission and also the deadline. The University may also need to complete qualification questionnaires and other forms in order to demonstrate that it meets certain eligibility criteria. Research Services will support researchers in completing tender documents and questionnaires. However, qualification questionnaire can be lengthy and complex, often requiring information from a range of University Directorates and services. Please ensure you give your Research Services Team plenty of notice if you intend to bid for a tender so they can prepare the information you need.
The customer will also issue standard contractual terms and conditions (T&Cs) with the ITT and will expect the University to indicate its agreement to these at submission stage (even though the actual contract will only be signed if the tender is successful). The Contracts Team will provide a high level review of the tender terms and conditions and outline any areas of concern.
As part of the tender process the application will be evaluated on both price and quality. Please note that bid documents are not evaluated solely on the lowest price, and will also be evaluated on quality and narrative section of the invitation to tender document.
Once submitted, tenders are non-negotiable. The applicant will be legally bound to deliver the work as described in the tender submission and for the quoted price.
Support for completing tender questionnaires
The below documents contain information which may be required to complete tender application questionnaires.
Overview of general questions and answers for tender questionnaires