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Review of COUP 2019

Monday, 9 September, 2019

Now the dust has settled we've been looking back at a great week in Leicester for the Conference On University Purchasing (COUP) 2019.


COUP provides a unique opportunity for Heads of Procurement, Category Managers and buyers from across the UK to meet with colleagues from other institutions and suppliers to the sector. Held every two years at alternating locations, this year’s event took place at the University of Leicester hosted by the North East University Purchasing Consortium (NEUPC).


Day 1

Day one tends to be a day focussed more on social activities for delegates, and the dreaded set-up for suppliers! The theme of our stand this year was 'Back to Nature'. Using biophilic design concepts, we created an “outdoors-in” space to catch the eye of any delegates walking around the exhibition marquee. Our logo featured on our 'Living Wall', the FourReal A Table by Ocee Design featured an array of plants and our desktop gardens offer delegates an opportunity to grow their own mixed herbs or wild flowers.

During 2019, we’ve made huge progress in our 3D visualisation and Virtual Reality skills; what better place to show these off than at COUP? We created a number of virtual reality environments using the latest visualisation software and the ever handy Oculus Go headset. Click here to read more about our VR environments.


Day 2

Day 2 began with a Conference Welcome from Andy Stephens, NEUPC Chair and Martyn Riddleston, Chief Financial Officer at the University of Leicester followed by Keynote 1: 'What Lay Behind a Crazy Dream' by Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Scientist and Broadcaster. Unfortunately we were too busy preparing our stand to attend this session.

The first coffee break of the day was our first opportunity to to showcase BOF and our capabilities including VR to the delegates. Our stand was incredibly well received! At BOF, we like to think we do things differenlty so hearing feedback like "Your stand is always the best by far!" from key decision makers within the University sector is always fantastic.



Lasso Stools by Naughtone

After refreshments the workshops commenced! COUP always provides a wide variety of workshops that give delegates the choice to choose which workshops will benefit them. This year’s morning workshops included: 'The COUP Public Procurement Challenge – How would you change the procurement rules?' and 'CIPS and Apprenticeships'.

Whilst delegates attended the late morning workshops we joined Mark Hayter, Category and Shared Service Manager at NEUPC for his presentation 'On the Inside of Frameworks'. This exhibitor only session was well attended and extremely informative.


At lunchtime we had the opportunity to meet more delegates and discuss our latest ReTHINK newspaper. Issue 4 is packed full of BOF and industry news as well as case studies and guest articles from Orangebox, Boss Design, Davison Highley and The Senator Group. Click here to download a copy.


Wednesday afternoon's workshops included 'Contract Management', 'Embedding Sustainability in your Tender Process' and 'Corporate Mental Strength'.

We then got to meet delegates during the afternoon refreshments break before delegates attended Keynote 2: The impact of the HE sector on UK sustainability through procurement, Keynote 3: How CIPS can help Higher Education achieve maximum value from the supply base and Keynote 4: Adventures in Space.

Wednesday evening both exhibitors and delegates attended the Networking Evening at The National Space Centre which was great fun.


The inspiration for the theme of this years conference, Mission Ready: HE Procurement for the Next Generation, has been taken from the Wednesday night venue, The National Space Centre and the University of Leicester’s role as a key contributor to UK space research. The HE sector can learn a lot from the greatest of minds striving to overcome the barrier to space travel and exploration, whether they be physical, political or financial. At the Space Centre, guests were invited to venture up the rocket tower and be taken to the edge of the universe in the Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium.

We loved the dry ice drinks reception, Star Wars characters, Spacemen, launching Max into space and the rockets!


Day 3

Day 3 began with Keynote 5: The Value of Curiosity with Professor Brian Cox OBE. History shows us that great curiosity equals great rewards. Brian explored the value of science and acquisition of new knowledge to universities, including the immense value arising from exploration of the universe and how it leads to the continued economic success of universities as world funding leaders.


Workshop 3 offered delegates the chance to attend topics such as 'The Impact of procurement', 'Is "frameworking" for you?' and 'Demystifying Utilities Buying' before the next exhibition session...



This year Workshop 4 included 'Influencing and Negotiating', 'GDPR and Procurement', 'Health and Safety in Construction Tenders' and 'An introduction to Dynamic Purchasing Systems' before lunch and more exhibition time with us lovely suppliers!


After lunch Workshop 5 covered 'Digital Accessibility and Procurement', 'Game Theory', 'Evaluation Techniques' and 'The importance of Modern Slavery statements in Higher Education'.


Our University Account Managers met delegates during the final exhibition session of the event before conference close where we packed everything up and Dan & Max prepared for the prestigious Gala Dinner at Athena...


For all those who attended, we hope you enjoyed this years event. And to those of you unable to make this years conference and are catching up on the few days here… You really missed out.

For more information on any of the topics covered in this blog article. Drop an email to [email protected]

We look forward to COUP 2021 in Royal Holloway hosted by LUPC.