Link Up to an Olympic Vision ; A New Networking Scheme Aims to Give More Companies the Chance to Compete for Lucrative Contracts at the 2012 Games

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A GROUNDBREAKING business "dating agency" was launched at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium yesterday to help companies across the UK compete for thousands of business opportunities helping deliver the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and London Organising Committee (LOCOG) expect to allocate more than Pounds 6 billion of work as part of an estimated 75,000 future business opportunities covering direct contractors and their supply chains over the coming years.

The London 2012 Business Network, launched to more than 600 business people at the Old Trafford event, will help companies compete for London 2012 business opportunities direct with London 2012 or with suppliers in its supply chain.

The Network has three component parts: essential information on upcoming opportunities and how to supply London 2012; business events; and the new CompeteFor service, a business dating agency that will match companies to thousands of opportunities supplying London 2012 contractors. Up to a fifth of London 2012 supply-chain opportunities are expected to go through the CompeteFor system.

According to LOCOG chairman Lord Coe, London 2012 already provides a unique opportunity for businesses to raise their profile and reputation on the global stage. "The number of big sporting events coming to the UK as a result of us winning the right to host the Games could make this a golden decade for major events in the UK and British business," he says.

"Delivering the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games is a massive logistical operation, requiring goods and services from a large number of firms.

Businesses the length and breadth of the country will win contracts and we hope gain a huge amount of experience of what it takes to stage and host big sporting events." Lord Coe points out that this should lead to a new export market for the UK. "The success of the Sydney Olympics in 2000 not only led to a large increase in direct foreign investment in New South Wales, it also led to Australian businesses establishing an international reputation for their skills in delivering big global events," he adds.

"London 2012 gives UK business this opportunity. The London 2012 Business Network will help companies make the most of the opportunities ahead. It will enable companies to compete for the thousands of contracts that will be available and make sure companies are aware of and can prepare for the opportunities that staging the Games in London in 2012 will bring." The ODA has published details of the first phase of direct contractors already appointed on the London 2012 Business Network to enable companies to identify supply chain opportunities.

Even at this early stage, more than 500 contractors have won contracts worth more than Pounds 1 billion in total and, of the three-quarters of ODA suppliers where company size is known, 68 per cent are small or medium-sized companies. …