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N8 Research Centre Business Plans


X00102PR Ian Pickford 08/06/07 Northwest Regional Development Agency Renaissance House PO Box 37 Centre Park Warrington WA1 1XB


Telephone Number 01925 400549 Email Address: 22/06/07


We require electronic submissions emailed to


Not Applicable


The University of Sheffield’s Standard Terms and Conditions of Contract for the Supply and Installation of Goods shall apply


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY N8 has set up five inter-disciplinary research networks (“virtual research centres”) and has awarded each of them a £323k grant to (amongst other things) recruit Business Development Manager and prepare a business plan. A consultant is now needed by N8 to help the centres prepare the plans and to organise a selection process by which two of the five centres will receive further funding of around £2m each. The business plans are to be submitted by November 2007, and the selection will take place in January 2008. Proposals are required by 22nd June 2007, interviews will take place on the 12 th July 2007, and work be required to commence no later than 1st August 2007.

RFQ001 V1/SC Issued: June 2007

N8 Ltd is a company set up by the eight research intensive universities in the North of England, through which they will work together when it is mutually advantageous to do so. The Universities involved are Liverpool, Lancaster, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, York, Durham and Newcastle The first major project for N8 is to establish a number of virtual Research Centres, which will pool the expertise of the universities in certain disciplines, and offer this to businesses in the North and elsewhere. This project is funded by the Northern Way. The five Centres will focus on the following market areas: Ageing and Health, Sustainable Water Use, Molecular Engineering, Regenerative Medicine and Energy. The aim is to enable user businesses to innovate better and faster than they could otherwise, and so increase productivity, take greater global market share and raise wealth creation. This will increase research and knowledge transfer activity and income for the Northern universities, and where the innovation and increased added value accrues to businesses based in the North, will contribute to closing the wealth gap between the North and the rest of the UK. The Research Centres must thus ensure they get a clear steer from business regarding the research outputs and knowledge transfer activities that they require to enable them to lift their performance in this way. The Northern Way is a long term initiative by the three Northern regions to close the wealth gap with the rest of England. One of the most important investment priorities is innovation, as the partners believe that increasing the rate and quality of innovation is essential to the North’s economic development. . The NWDA is acting as the lead RDA for the Innovation workstream. Northern Way investment (via the NWDA) will primarily support capital projects in the member universities, whilst the universities will make available £5.8m revenue to enable start-up and operation of the virtual Centres. The total project is worth £11.8m from the two sources combined. The project will be guided by a N8 Research Centres Steering Group, comprised of senior figures from business, academia, the research community and the Northern RDAs. Day to day activities will be under the control of a dedicated Project Manager, working to a project business plan, with a Management Group providing external oversight and guidance as necessary; this group will comprise N8 and Northern Way staff. In Phase 1 of the project, the universities came together to establish the Centres, and open discussions with groups of businesses to establish their innovation requirements. Crucially, each Research Centre has identified a lead academic to guide the research, and are in the process of hiring a Business Development Manager (BDMs) to develop market needs and draft a business plan by November 2007. In some cases, temporary resources have been engaged to assist the development process while recruitment of the BDMs occurs. Phase 1 funding will be £2 million in total (of which each centre will receive £323,000). In Phase 2, two of the Centres will be selected for further financial inputs totalling £4 million, whilst the other three will go forward with finance they obtain by other means. There is thus a requirement for a process that assists each Centre to develop and submit a high quality business plan to a given common format, provides assessment of these business plans, and that results in the selection of two business plans for further investment. From this arises N8’s need for consultancy inputs.

RFQ001 V1/SC Issued: June 2007

Suitably qualified consultants are thus invited to tender for: • •

• •


provision of a template, to enable all the Research Centres to prepare business plans to a common format, so that they can be better compared during the selection process, provision of consultancy advice to the five Centres and those preparing the business plans on their behalf, providing ongoing liaison, advice and guidance, thereby ensuring the preparation and delivery of 5 comparable high quality and robust business plans within the allotted timeframe design of the selection process, and evaluation methodology / criteria, to ensure it is recognised and accepted as fair, transparent and competent support to the selection panel, to ensure the process runs smoothly, and the panel fully appreciate the offer being made by each Centre.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES The purpose of the Consultancy is to: • ensure all five of the N8 Research Centres develops a first class business plan, and so has a sound basis on which to secure funding and build its further development, • enable N8 and The Northern Way to identify two Centres to receive investment in Phase 2 of the project.


CRITICAL ISSUES Establishment of these virtual Research Centres by a consortium of eight universities is a bold and ambitious step. It will require tact and understanding to build strong and mutually beneficial relationships between all of the partners in each. There is considerable interest in N8 and its Research Centres at the highest levels in Government. It is of great importance to N8 members that this work goes smoothly and to schedule. Senior figures in business are also very interested; again it is crucial for the future credibility of the universities that the Centres are put on a firm footing, and the process of developing business relations with industry is smooth and successful. Northern Way funding is only available until March 2008, though revenue funding for these two Phases is available until March 2011. The consultancy inputs must begin and finish on time. It is vital that the giving of consultancy support to the five Centres, and the selection process, is perceived by all to be fair. It must thus be an open and transparent process. The success of the centres will hinge on a sound understanding of business demand for their services, and that in turn must be based on a proper appreciation of global markets by business. During the business planning process, consultants must ensure that market demands for university research outputs and knowledge transfer services are correctly understood by each Centre, and taken account of in the business plans. Similarly, during the business planning process, consultants must ensure that the business plans address the key areas identified as part of the project development (proposal) and those outlined within the funding agreement with the NWDA, notably the required project / Research Centre outputs and outcomes.

RFQ001 V1/SC Issued: June 2007


METHODOLOGY The consultant’s work will fall into two parts: PART 1: a. Run an information event for all the universities and people likely to be involved in the five Research Centres, in which: • The purpose of N8, the role of The Northern Way and the nature of Research Centres will be covered; • The expectations of N8 and The Northern Way, and their partners / stakeholders will be explained. • The role of the consultants will be explained; • Current progress and status of business planning activities across the Research Centres will be reviewed • There will be an opportunity for the Research Centres to contribute to the format of the business plan template and the evaluation criteria will be provided • The timetable for Phases 1 & 2 of the Research Centres project will be clarified; • The nature and scope of consultancy support to the business planning process in Phase 1 will be explained; • The Philosophy and methodology for the selection process will be shared. b. Prepare a template / pro-forma detailing the content of the business plans, and guidance notes on its completion, to ensure all five Research Centres produce plans that cover all the ground expected in a commercial business plan, and to a common format, so making them comparable at the selection stage. c. Provide face to face and telephone / e-mail advice and help to those drafting the business plans, upto a pre-agreed limit common to each, to enable them to develop their concepts and express them well in their written documents, using the templates. NB. Proposals should be clear as to the amount of time they propose to devote to this activity / task in particular d. To provide guidance and advice as to market research and business needs analysis in support of the development of each business plan e. To deliver quality control to ensure the submission of 5 high quality, robust business plans PART 2: a. Develop a timetable, in consultation with N8, for the selection process. Note that completed business plans will be submitted to the N8 Research Centres Steering Group, for acceptance as competent business plans, prior to their submission to the selection panel. b. Develop a set of criteria against which the selection panel will judge and score the business plans. Ensure this is shared with all five Research Centres prior to the development and submission of their business plans c. Advise N8 on the membership of the selection panel, and support them in the assembly of this panel. These would be RDA representatives (at least one per region), representatives from the three Science and Industry Councils, a representative of the UK Research Councils, specialists to represent industrial areas covered by the bids and academic representatives (who may be from N8 and/or outside of the region). d. Prepare a briefing pack for the members of the selection panel.

RFQ001 V1/SC Issued: June 2007

e. Advise the selection panel of the quality of the bids, and of the consortia (i.e. an independent view from a non-member of the panel)


OUTPUTS See above The outputs of the work will be owned by N8 Ltd.


PROJECT MANAGEMENT The project will be managed and procured by Professor David Secher, Chief Executive of N8 Ltd, or the N8 Research Centres Project Manager when appointed. Professor David Secher Chief Executive, N8 New Spring House 231 Glossop Road Sheffield S10 2GW T: 0114 2224160 M: 07989 380148 E: The N8 Research Centres Management Group, comprising N8 and Northern Way / RDA members will have a close and direct interest in this work, and will comment on its outputs and progress. The consultants should plan to formally meet the client (N8 Ltd): a. For a project initiation meeting in the first week of the assignment (NB. Also involving NWDA representation), b. To share and discuss the business plan template and guidance notes c. To discuss and review progress of business plan development and assess performance against the required key milestones d. A month before the selection panel, to discuss detailed arrangements e. During the selection process Other informal meetings can be expected, as required. Any subcontractors to be used must be stated in the contractor’s bid and cannot be altered later on without the prior written permission of N8 Ltd.. NB. Please note that the NWDA has agreed to tender the project on behalf of N8 Ltd, and while not subject to the Agency Panel Agreements, we would ask that those who wish to submit a proposal take the involvement of NWDA in the project into consideration.


TIMESCALES The work will be spread over a period from June 2007 to March 2008. Part 1 activity should begin as soon as a consultant is engaged, and last until the selection panel is ready to meet. Currently this is scheduled for January 2008.

RFQ001 V1/SC Issued: June 2007

Part 2 activity should overlap with Part 1, in that the assessment criteria should be defined and shared with the Research Centre business managers (those drafting the business plans) whilst the plans are still being developed / refined. The work of the consultants will complete shortly after the selection panel has made its decision. Key milestones to be achieved are below: • • • •


Develop appraisal (evaluation) process & selection procedure – 30 th August 2007 Appoint Selection Panel – 30th August 2007 5 completed, high quality, comparable Business Plans presented to Project Steering Group – 30th November 2007 Selection Panel meets and selects 2 Research Centres for additional funding based on submitted Business Plans – 31st January 2008

CRITERIA FOR ASSESSMENT Consultants will be judged upon: • • • • • • • • •

Relevant experience of the team proposed; we will look for evidence that the team proposed for this project, and who actually work on the project, have undertaken / been involved in at least three similar pieces of work. Understanding and appreciation of university / business interaction and knowledge transfer, including issues of ownership of intellectual property, Understanding and appreciation of the complexities of universities working together as a team. Understanding of commercial business planning and business development Understanding of the brief Ability to resource the work with people able to command respect from the university and business people with whom they will be working, and able to provide the high quality guidance required in this complex situation. Timetable for delivery of outputs Price and Value for money. Overall quality of the bid; written and presentational.



Submissions should not exceed 15 pages. The proposal should be structured as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Introduction Project appreciation Methodology Work plan and staffing (including a full schedule and milestone delivery) Financial proposals / costs

Detailed (supporting) information of the qualifications of the team members, including CVs of key personnel to be attached to the project, demonstration of experience of providing

RFQ001 V1/SC Issued: June 2007

similar services, and references of 3 major awarded within the last 2 years for services similar to those required by N8 Ltd, may be put into appendices.



A fixed price is required for the whole project Consultants should make clear the number of days they propose to commit to this project, broken down by task / activity. Please include an allowance for travel and subsistence, which will be reimbursed at cost and within the guidelines of the University of Sheffield, unless agreed otherwise. VAT should be included as a separate budget line Costs incurred by the Research Centres in researching and developing the business plans are not included and will be reimbursed elsewhere Consultants should provide an inclusive price for the project (plus VAT), and show how it is built up from the day rates of the team members to be used.



Proposals are required for the attention of Ian Pickford at: Northwest Regional Development Agency Renaissance House PO Box 37 Centre Park Warrington WA1 1XB and Submission should be supplied electronically to the above e-mail address For further information on the project / tender, contact David Sanderson, Project Sponsor for the NWDA on 01925 400325 / 07769 936887 / Short-listed consultants will be asked to attend an interview on 12 th July 2007 A presentation lasting no more than 20 minutes will be required from consultants short listed for interview.

RFQ001 V1/SC Issued: June 2007

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