The West Midlands Virtual Hospital is a pioneering 3D walkthrough building, showing the world how our region’s suppliers are capable of providing everything needed to design, build and run a 21st-century healthcare facility. Over 300 businesses have already signed up, collectively able to supply more than 8000 components. Can your business contribute?

On Thursday 9 October leading contractors, healthcare professionals and hundreds of delegates from West Midlands businesses will converge on West Bromwich for ‘Meet the hospital bidders’.

The all-day networking event at the Bethel Convention Centre is being organised by Sandwell Council and Birmingham City Council. One of the main features of the day will be the launch of the West Midlands Virtual Hospital (WMVH).

In this first-of-its-kind 3D digital building, users can click on any room, space, component or image and bring up details of a West Midlands business capable of supplying it.

It has been developed by Sandwell Council to help local businesses benefit from work stemming from the build of a real-life hospital: the £353m Midland Metropolitan in Smethwick. It has already helped the council to scoop a ‘Small Business Friendly’ procurement category award from the Federation of Small Businesses.

The main benefits of the WMVH to local businesses are:

  • Thanks to sponsorship, it is completely free to sign up and use
  • They can learn about the works packages generated by a hospital build, and get updates on real-life tender opportunities
  • It acts as an engaging and user-friendly 3D directory where they can showcase their products and services to real buyers, designers, clients and specifiers
  • It utilises Building Information Technology (BIM) – which all construction projects will have to use by 2016 – in an accessible way
  • It showcases their innovations while protecting their intellectual property (and will not disclose sensitive information such as dimensional data and tolerances, product finishings and so on).

More than 300 local businesses, with a collective ability to supply over 8000 hospital components, have already created their profiles. Now Sandwell Council is looking for more businesses to submit their product details for inclusion in the WMVH design.

“We don’t yet have design specifications for every component in every room,” explained Steve Massey, supply chain development officer at Sandwell Council. “So if you manufacture a product which would work in a hospital – anything from clinical, specialist medical and operating theatre equipment to hospital beds, escalators, passenger lifts, stairways, balustrades, furniture, ceiling panels, lighting, and so on – this is the time to get involved!

“Sign up for the WMVH, send us your product specifications, and we’ll convert it into a BIM image, to be included and showcased in our groundbreaking virtual building.”

Councillor Ian Jones, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for jobs and the economy, urged SMEs to register for the WMVH and its launch event. “We know West Midlands business have the products, skills and technology to supply everything needed for a state-of-the-art hospital,” he said.

“I hope they will turn out in force at ‘Meet the Hospital Bidders’ next month, having already completed their free profiles for the West Midlands Virtual Hospital. It’s an ambitious and innovative initiative and this is their chance to get their products in front of influential architects and specifiers.”

Councillor Tahir Ali, Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for development, transport and the economy, said the West Midlands Virtual Hospital was the pilot for what could be a nationally valuable tool.

“It has the potential to transform the UK’s procurement process in buildings and infrastructure, at home and overseas. It will give West Midlands businesses a platform to show what they can do, as well as a valuable head start in adopting BIM. I hope our region’s SMEs will use it to their advantage and look forward to seeing hundreds of delegates there on the day.”

The WMVH will be launched by Lord Digby Jones at ‘Meet the hospital bidders’ on Thursday 9 October 2014 at the Bethel Convention Centre (Kelvin Way, West Bromwich B70 7JW) from 8:30am to 3pm. Principal contractors signed up to attend include Carillion, Laing O’Rourke and Interserve.

To register free for the WMVH complete the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WMVH. If you would also like to attend the free event first complete the survey and then email stephen_massey@sandwell.gov.uk with your details.

Please note that engagement with the West Midlands Virtual Hospital does not prove a firm’s capability or competence to supply to the Midland Metropolitan Hospital development nor does it constitute an application to be included in a bidder’s supply chain.