Illawarra businesses big winners in UOW contracting changes

ARTIST IMPRESSION: This is how the $80 million Molecular Horizons: Life Sciences Building will look when complete.
ARTIST IMPRESSION: This is how the $80 million Molecular Horizons: Life Sciences Building will look when complete.

Managing contractors now have to involve Illawarra businesses when bidding for major University of Wollongong construction projects and service delivery contracts.

That’s good news for local sub-contractors, who get more opportunities to compete on a level playing field for scheduled major UOW projects expected to reach $300 million by 2020.

UOW recently changed its contracting policy to make local industry involvement a key criterion when selecting managing contractors for major construction projects or service delivery contracts.

The changes also include measures to ensure managing contractors, once appointed, engage local businesses in accordance with their tender submission.

That means Illawarra contractors will get to do work on projects such as the Molecular Horizons building.

The university is in the process of conducting a selective tender to appoint a managing contractor for design and construction of the $80 million centre for molecular and life sciences research facility.

It is also doing the same thing for new state-of-the art teaching and creative production facilities for the Faculty of Social Science and the Faculty of Law, Humanities and Arts.

This select tender follows a public Expressions of Interest (EOI) call issued last year.

​University of Wollongong chief administrative officer Melva Crouch. Picture: Adam McLean

​University of Wollongong chief administrative officer Melva Crouch. Picture: Adam McLean

Calls for expressions of interest also closed this week for campus-wide services including waste, security, parking and cleaning. This EOI will inform a selective tender process in the coming months, with local industry involvement a key requirement.

UOW chief administrative officer, Melva Crouch said the contracting changes are an important part of ensuring local economy benefits from the University.

“The size and scale of the University’s operations and projects require us to engage large businesses, but by focusing on local industry involvement in our tender evaluations smaller local businesses get more opportunities to compete on a level playing field for work as sub-contractors,’’ Ms Crouch said.

“These changes are also enhancing transparency and probity in our contracting practices.”

The changes were foreshadowed in late 2017 at a meeting of Illawarra business group, i3net, and will be presented in more detail at i3net’s next business breakfast on Tuesday, February 13.

Ms Crouch said the university would be engaging local business owners to inform them about emerging opportunities over the coming months.

UOW’s latest Economic Impact Report, published in 2016, showed that UOW spent $471 million in direct capital investment between 2010 and 2015 and anticipates spending a further $300 million on capital projects between 2016 and 2020.