On September 21, procurement specialists from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will travel from its headquarters in the Philippines to Dublin for an Enterprise Ireland seminar to highlight tendering opportunities for Irish companies.
Those likely to be of most interest include contracts in the infrastructure, engineering, energy/environment, water, urban development, healthcare, education and policy and development areas.
Founded in 1966 and headquartered in Manila, the Asian Development Bank is a regional development bank, serving the developing countries of Asia.
Like the World Bank, it is a non-profit operation, aimed at reducing poverty in the region through development. The objectives of the Asian Development Fund (ADF) - the 'soft arm' of the ADB - include gender equality, food security, private sector development, governance, and preparedness and response to cross-border health issues and climate change and disasters.
The ADB's primary raison d'être is to provide loans. But the bank also finances some activities with grants and 'technical assistance'. Last year, the bank disbursed almost $16.4bn in loans, $169m in technical assistance and $526.75m in grant-funded projects to client countries.
Only companies and individuals from the countries that have joined the bank can tender for, or provide consultancy services around, the multibillion euro infrastructure and development projects supported each year. Ireland is one of the most recent countries to have joined the ADB, signing up just over a decade ago as its 66th member.
The specific opportunities for investor countries fall into two categories. First, there is the supply of goods and works. However, the second, broader opportunity area - the provision of consultancy services - is seen as more relevant to Irish companies.
For example, the ADB uses consultants for technical assistance work, sector studies and economic research studies, as well as for training. In addition, client countries use consultants on loan projects.
Some 70 consultancy-type contracts, worth $11.06m, have been awarded to Irish companies since 2006. For example, ESB International, the PM Group and Energy Services, have won contracts in the energy area, while SRI Executive has provided recruitment services for the bank itself.
Separate to this, the ADB hires consultants on short-term contracts - typically anything from 10 to 60 days - to work within the bank.
These secondments provide a great opportunity to get an insider view of the ADB's workings.
Winning an ADB contract can offer Irish companies a means of entering the Asian market. The bank operates a defined and transparent procurement process and allows contractors to bid and be paid in the currency of their choice. Moreover, all tendering is through English.
With billions being disbursed every year on projects spanning the Asia-Pacific region, Irish companies are best advised to hone their ADB efforts by focusing on one or a group of countries and familiarising themselves with the relevant 'Country Strategy and Programme' document - essentially the ADB's 'business plan' for that country.
The objective should be to drill down through the projects to see what is relevant for your company.
It is also a good idea to talk to the sectoral and country specialists within the ADB. Attending the event in Dublin could be a valuable first step in making initial contacts.
As well as highlighting opportunities, the workshop will provide an update on the ADB's new procurement policy and an opportunity to meet with ADB experts in one-to-one meetings.
Tonia Spollen-Behrens is a senior market adviser on international financial institutions (IFI) tender opportunities with Enterprise Ireland.