Dozens of delegates were at Bedford i-Lab for a networking event at which small and medium-sized enterprises were encouraged to do business better.

Thinking Big, hosted by the Bedford Development Agency, offered a day of seminars, presentations and breakouts, developed to offer guidance and advice.
Speakers included John Appleby, general manager of facilities and planning at London Luton Airport, Dr Elly Philpott from the University of Bedfordshire, health club group Fitness First’s assistant general manager John Elsey and Bedford entrepreneur, Colin Aitkenhead of Sticmatz.
Bedford Borough Council director of financial servies Phil Simpkins made a presentation on how SMEs can do business with local government.

Dr Philpott told delegates: “Suppliers need to get the basics right – quality, cost, delivery, innovation and effective management. They should know their market and how it trades, employ lean supply tactics adding value for the customer, be e-aware and keep up to speed with environmental developments.”

Mr Appleby gave delegates a valuable insight into procurement procedures, advising on how to approach and secure a contract with a large organisation. London Luton Airport had a turnover of £75-85 million and employed 22,000 people, he said.

The audience also heard from Colin Aitkenhead, a director of Bedford company Inertia Concepts Ltd, creator of Sticmatz® – a super sticky dashboard mat – launched in 2002 by UK industrial design graduate Matt Aitkenhead.

BDA chair Peter Hughes said: “We are keen to support local businesses to grow the economy. Thinking Big is all about Bedford companies working together to develop the local economy and increase the competitiveness of local enterprises.

“The Bedford Development Agency is helping to promote the development of a local sustainable supply chain and the event was a fantastic opportunity to learn how to do business better.”

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