Paula Turner: Bid Writer
This practical session covers
 A suggested model for handling
research funding ideas and
commercial tender returns
 Skills and aptitudes to speak to your
 Common pitfalls and handy hints
Your emotional state
 Flattered: someone has asked me to tender !
 Pressured: The Dean /Pro VC has sent me
 Surprised: Quick! ESRC has a call out for ......
 Desperate: everyone else has done one..
 Smug : I have a cracking research proposal and
I know where to take it
Types of Bids
 Competitive (OCT) v open call
 Limited or restricted bidding
 Competitive dialogue
 Research funding proposal
 Commercial
 European funded (ESF/ERDF)
 Others?
Stages used within a tendering process
 Expression of Interest
 Demonstration
 Contract Award
Model for handling proposal ideas and
tender returns
1. A Proposal idea you want to take or market OR
2. Receipt of an incoming Invitation to tender
Strategic Fit?
Timing & outputs
required ?
Competitive edge ?
Mobilising a
Proofing, despatch
and storing
completed proposals
TRIAGE 1: The 5 Question Test
Q1. Which core activity does it feed?
Q2. Will it employ any of our innovative approaches or
Q3. Does it match an agreed area of strategic focus?
Q4. Which area of our core expertise does it fit under and do we
have current capacity to deliver in the timescales specified?
Q5. Is it financially viable to deliver and/or will be lead to scale?
Your Conclusion:
In – depth TRIAGE
 Who/what/where & when?
 Fit with your Faculty area
 Opportunities & Risks involved
 Final decision?
 Contract award & review – 6 months later
Mobilising a Response
 Academic Lead & a “Bid Champion” project manager?
 Develop a response plan based upon criteria given
 Briefing note for partners/contributors/peer reviewer
 Form a relationship with the vendor
 Keep a rolling issues log
 Agree a house style
 Get legals and financials dealt with early on in the
 Book administrative support /peer reviewer & proof
reading at least 4 days in advance of deadline
What’s wrong with these?
 We have conducted similar studies and achieved
high levels of employer engagement.
 This research has relevance to .......
 There is a long history of research on ....
 The PI is interested to compare findings related to
 Research capacity will be enhanced
 Case study teaching material will be generated from
the research.
Common pitfalls
 Diving in
 Non –compliance
 Assertion not fact
 A “cut and paste” response
 Costing it badly
 An imbalance of your response across all areas of
the bid and ( if applicable) use the scoring matrix
Post submission evaluation
Ask for feedback – whether you won or
Skills & Aptitudes
 Be positive
 Be persuasive
 Cross the language barrier – use theirs not yours!
 Perceptual positioning
 Have an eye for detail
 Demonstrate flexibility
 Show resilience
 Appear Knowledgeable AND customer relationship
oriented AND a safe pair of hands!
Handy Hints
 Agree your critical path for turning this round
 If lead partner develop clear partner briefings
 Use version control & track changer
 Clarify grey areas in advance of submission
 “Points mean prizes” – be guided by their criteria not
Sample Q: Beneficiaries ( 4000 c.)
 Yes - other academics/research community , but
 International, National, Regional and Local
 Business Support and Membership Organisations
 Professional and Employer Representative Bodies
 ESRC itself e.g. the study satisfies the priority of
more fully exploiting national longitudinal datasets )
 Study participants
Golden Rules
 Present the bid in a professional manner that
properly identifies and substantiates your capability
and capacity to add value
 Is concise, relevant and demonstrates your capacity
to deliver outcomes
 Contains key personnel profiles that highlight their
qualifications and capabilities to be able to fulfil the
tender contract
 Substantiates your claims against the selection
criteria, proving you can carry out the contract
Golden Rules Continued:
 Use visual impact to impress the panel. If it is easy
to read it is easier to evaluate
 Identifies and substantiates “value added” services
which makes your services highly competitive
 Conforms to tender application requirements and
aims to exceed all procurement requirements.
And finally remember.....
“If you think you can or think you can’t you’re
probably right.....”
Thanks for listening & good luck !
Paula Turner

Bid Writing or the Art of Positioning