GFirst LEP pursues new 'cutting-edge' AI tool to support Gloucestershire businesses

Gloucestershire's Local Enterprise Partnership — GFirst LEP — is looking to enhance its services through the power of AI by seeking qualified vendors across the county to develop and implement an innovative new business support and advice engine — with the deadline for applications looming.

By Kaleigh Pritchard  |  Published
Vendor applications are being accepted at GFirst LEP until midnight on Monday 29 January 2024.

The capabilities of artificial intelligence within the business sector are still widely unknown, but GFirst LEP is looking to the future and the ways in which AI can transform how it supports and advises small businesses in Gloucestershire.

Currently actively seeking proposals from qualified vendors and in association with The Growth Hub, GFirst LEP is hoping to implement an AI-enabled business support and advice engine — with the aim of leveraging the powerful tool to create a 'cutting-edge diagnostic solution' that can quickly and efficiently answer questions, give advice and signpost business owners to the correct specialists and initiatives.

These questions may range from 'how do I start a business?' to 'how do I bring a new product to market?'

The platform will be used by the business navigators and mentors at GFirst LEP to assist them with enquiries at all stages of the business life cycle and across all business topics and sectors.

If implemented, the tool will:

  • Tailor recommendations to suit individual business needs
  • Offer a self-serve, chat-based interface empowering businesses to identify their strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities for improvement
  • Guide businesses to accurate and accessible recourses in Gloucestershire, based on diagnostic results
  • Produce a document full of findings generated in the session, to take away 

To bring the project to life, suitable vendors are required to follow best practices in cybersecurity, provide tangible evidence of application development, a proven track record of AI implementation, proof of robust date security protocols and a commitment to ethical AI practices.

Tender applications will be measured against the above criteria and they will also need to provide a full cost breakdown, — GFirst LEP's budget is £45,000 including VAT — references from previous customers, a risk assessment and propose a timeline for the project.

Hoping to kick off the project in February 2024 and have it completed by April 2024, GFirst LEP is accepting proposals until midnight on Monday 29 January 2024, via Sarah Danson by the email address found on the GFirst LEP website.

Within the full tender document, GFirst LEP said: 'Successfully achieving the project objectives will collectively enable a transformative and empowered business ecosystem within Gloucestershire by harnessing the capabilities of an AI-driven toolkit.'

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