Government Dragon’s Den for SMEs?

By Tony Collins

The Cabinet Office is enabling SMEs to pitch ideas to civil servants on how they could save money or do things more efficiently.

The Cabinet Office says its Innovation Launch Pad is part of a series of measures to make it easier for SMEs to work for government.

SMEs can submit their business ideas until 22 April.

The best ideas will be picked by a community of civil servants and, “after intensive mentoring from some of Britain’s foremost entrepreneurs, those that demonstrate the highest impact will be invited to present their ideas at a ‘Product Surgery’  in the summer”, says the Cabinet Office.

Downing Street will also host a reception for those with the best ideas. The aim is to “stimulate new open competitions in Government markets in which these suppliers will be able to participate”.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said:

“SMEs can offer Government more innovative, more flexible and more cost effective products and services, but we know they often find it difficult to bring their ideas to our attention.

“Through the Innovation Launch Pad, we will get better value for Government and support small business. Government needs more online engagement like this.”


28th March – 22nd April – Business Idea Submission Phase

During the first phase SMEs are invited to enter business ideas. Anyone who has registered will be able to comment on ideas submitted. SMEs will be able to modify their ideas at any time during the first phase in response to comments received.

23rd April – 29th April – Final Comment Phase

Time for comments on ideas submitted near the end of the submission window.  During the final comments phase no new ideas will be accepted.

2nd May-27th May – Voting Phase

Civil servants will vote on ideas using the voting options on the site.  Only those who have registered using legitimate, verified civil service email addresses can vote.

30th May – 1st July – Selection & Presentation Phase

The final selection of ideas will take place and mentoring will be undertaken with those SMEs submitting the best ideas. They will then work with the Cabinet Office’s team of volunteer entrepreneurs on preparing their final presentations for the Product Surgery.


Those ideas that demonstrate the highest impact will be invited to present their ideas at a Product Surgery in the summer. Downing Street will host a reception for those with the best ideas.


Innovation Launch Pad.

FAQs and the “How it Works” pages.

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