24 August 2023

What is the Industry Capability Network and how is it helping local SMEs?

| Dione David
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Industry Capability Network has helped Australian SMEs secure more than $40 billion worth of business. Photo: Supplied.

It’s been around almost 40 years so you might’ve heard of it, but if you’re not one of the 90,000 Australian businesses registered on its database, you might not be “in the know” about Industry Capability Network – and it might be costing you.

Initially introduced as part of the Jobs Act to ensure local businesses were getting a fair go, these organisations are overseen by an entity of the same name – the Industry Capability Network (ICN) National Office.

Records show ICN has helped secure more than $40 billion worth of business for local companies across more than 75,000 contracts, though the actual numbers are expected to be much higher.

From the outset the task is simple – connect buyers to suppliers of goods, services and capability to ensure two things – that small to medium enterprises (SMEs) can access projects of all sizes and project owners get the best people for their jobs.

The ultimate purpose is to drive economic growth in Australia and New Zealand, and ICN does this by leveraging vast networks built over decades as one of the longest running programs in the history of Commonwealth funded programs.

Today’s ICN delivers this service using a more independent model, relying less on government but retaining all of the connections and networks gathered over four decades.

ICN harnesses the power of its robust databases with cutting-edge technology called Gateway.

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Any business can register on its flagship product, Gateway, for free, joining an invaluable database of registered companies advertising their capabilities to project owners.

Though those registered for free will not turn up on public searches, they will receive notifications of all available contracts that match their capacity and capabilities.

Businesses who want value adds can pay subscriptions starting from $156 annually and can get access to a swathe of benefits.

ICN’s Gateway product has the power to create brand awareness and recognition of businesses, lead generation and critical search engine optimisation. Every hit on a search helps with this.

According to ICN National Office CEO Warren Jansen, ICN will assist registered businesses with this.

“Being sector agnostic and independent, if you tick relevant capabilities that you can deliver, you will get notifications when projects come online – but for the best chance to secure those contracts, you have to put your best foot forward,” he said.

“That’s because the way you register yourself on Gateway determines your visual presence. It’s like having a mini website.

“For all businesses, but perhaps especially your mum and dad businesses, these value adds can be significant.”

Headshot of Warren Jansen in front of light grey background

ICN Executive Director Warren Jansen says having end-to-end procurement housed in one place is less frustrating for clients looking for capability, and less work for businesses looking for opportunities. Photo: Supplied.

ICN’s offering doesn’t stop at Gateway – there are three complementary products under its banner.

“Procure” is one of three products developed to complement Gateway. A project manager of sorts, it breaks projects down into stages ready for contracting and procurement, allowing suppliers to respond quickly to quote and tender requests.

“Perspective” is ICN’s market intelligence product. Powered by 40 years of data from companies, suppliers and projects, it creates bespoke, real-time understanding of companies and capabilities, allowing users to better understand business capabilities in different regions and sectors.

And finally, “Insight” provides real-time, intuitively displayed data in visuals that allow clients to instantly gauge how a project is performing and make informed strategic decisions.

Because ICN offers complete tracking of a project end-to-end – from procurement to tracking of deliverables and milestones – buyers can easily report back to government as to their efforts to satisfy the requirements of the Jobs Act by offering opportunities to local businesses.

“Often, especially with small businesses, these things are tracked across multiple platforms and that can frustrate government and create more work for mum and dad businesses,” Warren said.

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ICN’s clout positions it well to assist with procurement on big ticket projects, such as for the Australian Government’s nuclear submarine taskforce.

Buyers and suppliers alike have enjoyed countless successes with the model. Some have even experienced it from both sides of the coin.

For example, private boat building company PFG started off as a small business in Hobart, supplying boat building components to big projects they found primarily through Gateway. Today they’re a Gateway project owner supplying to multiple police organisations and just won a New Zealand Government contract for patrol vessels.

“There are so many stories like that, opportunities that have come through the publicity we’ve given projects on Gateway,” Warren said.

“It can transform local businesses.”

For more information, visit ICN.

Original Article published by Dione David on Riotact.


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