FSB Winner 2015For the second year running, Sandwell Council has won an award at the Federation of Small Businesses’ Staffordshire and West Midlands Local Authority ‘Small Business Friendly Awards’.

This year we were successful again in the ‘Best “Small Business Friendly” Procurement Campaign’ category thanks to our pioneering West Midlands Virtual Hospital and related work in helping our region’s businesses adopt building information technology (BIM). The award ceremony took place at the Eaton Hotel, Hagley Road, Edgbaston in Birmingham on Friday 9 October 2015.

The West Midlands Virtual Hospital (WMVH) is a digital-engineered 3D ‘walkthrough’ hospital with a BIM platform. It complements the development of a real-life hospital, the £430m Midland Metropolitan.

WMVH coaches SMEs in using BIM. Through it, they can present plans, designs, drawings, dimensional tolerances, product life¬cycle data and specifications using easy-to-configure 3D analysis.

WMVH also works as a procurement directory; an online showcase of West Midlands SMEs. Health sector professionals including commissioners, architects, medical engineers, buyers and estate managers can browse WMVH to view prospective suppliers and source materials, products and services.

You can view the WMVH website and sign up for free at www.westmidlandsvirtualhospital.co.uk.

To support small businesses’ adoption of BIM, which will be vital for the future success of most businesses working in the manufacturing and engineering sectors (by 1 April 2016 all public-sector capital-build projects must comply with BIM Level 2) we are hosting BIM awareness workshops. On Thursday 8 October 2015 we launched our state-of-the-art BIM Technology & Skills Suite at the CAP Centre on Windmill Lane in Smethwick.

The 12-workstation facility features BIM viewing software, an online learning platform, consultancy and affordable vocational training in: basic CAD skills; 3D modelling; engineering design services; product design and; BIM object creation. It is a first for a UK local authority.

The judges also declared Sandwell Council a winner due to our consideration for suppliers. We are a signatory to the Prompt Payment Code meaning we have pledged to pay suppliers on time, give clear guidance on payment terms and encourage best practice among our lead suppliers (so that a healthy cashflow can trickle down through the supply chain).

Last year we won in the Procurement Policy category and in 2013 took ‘Highly Commended’.

Councillor Bill Gavan, Cabinet member and business ambassador for Sandwell Council said: “This is a brilliant accolade for Sandwell Council and we’re delighted to have been recognised at the awards once again. Through our business development platform Think Sandwell, the West Midlands Virtual Hospital and our efforts in promoting critical BIM skills, we’ll continue doing everything we can to make life easier and the future more prosperous for our region’s small and medium sized businesses.”

To find out more about WMVH email stephen_massey@sandwell.gov.uk. To find out more about the new BIM Suite please contact the delivery partner BIMability at www.bimability.co.uk or enquiries@BIMability.co.uk.