Institutes of higher education are often a good source of contract opportunities, especially in industries such as construction and maintenance. However, many government subcontractors overlook the fact that university departments are often themselves pursuing government contracts. Given the increasing competition for public-sector subcontracting, it's wise to have a solid working relationship with relevant departments of your city's and region's colleges and universities so that you're well-positioned whenever they're looking for local subcontractors.

Subcontracting Opportunities in Research and Development

Funding is always a challenge for university programs, and these institutions are often fiercely competing to be awarded government research and development grants. Not only do these grants provide support for innovation, the prestige that accompanies recognition by a government agency is coveted by students and professors alike. A university may have the brainpower necessary to carry out government research, but it still needs supplies and services to support that research. This is where government R&D grants to universities can trickle down into subcontracting opportunities.

Typical higher-education subcontracting opportunities in research and development include contracts for scientific and medical equipment; medical reagents and other chemicals; disposable laboratory supplies such as gloves, pipettes, syringes, etc.; computer equipment and equipment maintenance; IT services; and janitorial and other maintenance services. A university may also use subcontractors for part of the research itself, or may partner with a private company. When pursuing this type of subcontracting opportunity, be aware that you will most likely be required to publish or share your findings with the academic community.

Finding Higher Education Subcontracting Opportunities

To establish subcontracting relationships with universities and colleges, you can call individual departments and ask to speak with the Procurement Representative. However, this is a time-consuming process that makes it difficult to target the departments that are in need of your services. Instead, consider tapping in to government grant information from a business intelligence company. Accessing award data from research and development grants will give you insight into which universities are actively pursuing projects that might require your products or services. Award-data research may also include the names of the relevant university staff involved with the project, allowing you to target them in your marketing efforts.

Government R&D grants may last for several years, and are often renewed, so building subcontracting relationships with higher educational institutions may provide your company with subcontracting opportunities for years to come.