A Guide to Contract Laboratory Services

Published16th February 2021

Everything you need to know about contract laboratory services

Contract laboratory services are required across the UK and can be a lucrative opportunity for your business.

A lot of contract laboratory services are looking for lab equipment, chemicals, laboratory consumables and gasses. The delivery, maintenance and installation of equipment and fridges and freezers have been in demand recently, too.

Who commissions contract laboratory services?

Universities and the NHS are two of the main procurers of such contract laboratory services across the UK.

If you’re a small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs), you can benefit from these procurement opportunities. You may think that such opportunities are only for large businesses, but that simply isn’t the case anymore.

Securing a contract with a university can be a great business opportunity for an SME. The average university is currently spending just under 40% of its impactable spend with SMEs. In 2017/18 this accounted for around £1.5 billion, with this sum only expected to rise.

This is further encouraged by the UK governments target to see £1 in £3 spent with SMEs by 2022. This means that public sector businesses are actively looking to award contracts to smaller businesses.

Framework agreements

Often, contract laboratory services will be on framework agreements. Framework agreements are popular ways of procurement, particularly within the healthcare sector. NHS frameworks and agreements with other authorities can be a good place for small or new businesses to start. Sometimes, the NHS provides access to framework agreements, through partnerships such as the NHS London Procurement Partnership.

A framework agreement looks to establish a multi-supplier agreement and they can run for years at a time. It is a similar process to your average tender whereas the buyer will issue a notice to suppliers (PQQ or SQ). Potential suppliers can then submit a bid to provide their services. In this case, that can be anything from laboratory ovens and stirrers and mixers to bacterial and viral swab systems.

Once these bids have been submitted, the buyer will then review each bid. They will then create a shortlist of approved suppliers. Whenever there is an opportunity or project available, the buyer will hold a mini competition with the shortlisted suppliers. At this point, suppliers will only have to compete for an invitation to tender (ITT). This saves a lot of time for both the buyer and supplier as they don’t need to submit another PQQ or SQ.

How is a framework divided?

Framework agreements often include ‘Lots’ which are often, in this case, a specific service or product. An example of various Lots that could be available on a framework contract for laboratory services for the NHS could be:

  1. Lab Equipment
  2. Lab Consumables
  3. Mortuary and Autopsy Consumables
  4. Mortuary and Autopsy Equipment
  5. Medical and Scientific Refrigeration.

If your business specialised in specifically mortuary and autopsy equipment, you would simply apply for Lot 4. Lots allow businesses to work alongside other service provides on the contract. Securing a place on these can be a lucrative business and place your organisation in good stead for future contracts.

The advantages of being a supplier on a framework

There are many benefits of being a supplier on a framework agreement.

  • An easier way for SMEs to secure a pipeline of work

Securing a place on a framework can place your business in good stead. They can run for years at a time, with some having the possibility of extension. Because multiple suppliers can be awarded onto the same agreement, you won’t be competing in the same way. The more suppliers the framework allows, the better your chances are of securing a place on the agreement.

  • Guaranteed pay

If providing contract laboratory services within the public sector, you are guaranteed pay if on a framework. This is because public organisations are contractually bound to pay the awarded supplier. Some NHS framework agreements last for four years and this can provide your business with a structured, long-term revenue. Obviously, this is one of the biggest advantages when tendering for public contracts.

  • Build experience

If you’ve never tendered before, securing a place on a framework can be a great place to start. Frequently you will be required to provide at least three case studies of previous work. If you’re new to the process, you may not have any. This is why securing a place on a framework contract can help. They can help you build experience which then enables you to apply for larger contracts. 


When looking at contract laboratory services for the NHS on a framework the weightings can vary a great deal. An example of the four core criteria within framework agreements can range from:

  • General Service Requirements: 20 – 70%
  • Clinical/Technical Requirements: 10 – 60%
  • Support & Installation: 10 – 60 %
  • Price: 20 – 70%

Depending on the goods or services being procured, the buyer can adjust the criteria weightings to fit their bespoke requirements. Therefore, it’s worth reading the specification carefully to make sure you’re putting enough detail and information into each criterion.

If applying for contract laboratory services in the public sector, the contract will be awarded to the MEAT. MEAT stands for the most economically advantageous tender. This does not mean the cheapest bid wins.

The MEAT means the buyer looks at more than just price, seeing if they can get more value for money. These can include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Quality
  • Accessibility
  • Technical ability
  • Environmental benefits
  • Innovation

Need help writing your next bid for contract laboratory services? We can help.

Bid Writing Services

Our team of Bid Writers at Hudson Succeed know how much time is required to turn out a winning bid. We understand that you have a full plate and don’t always have the time to do this. Our Bid Writers have an 87% success rate and over 40-year bidding experience. Luckily, for you, we offer four bid writing solutions to suit different needs.

Our four bid writing assistance packages are:

Tender Mentor

Our Tender Mentor service can help make sure your contract laboratory services response is the best it can be. Our Bid Writers will look over your bid making sure it’s error-free before you submit.

Tender Writing

Our Bid Writers take care of the whole tendering process for you. Through Tender Writing, they’ll create your responses and will even submit the bid on your behalf. This allows you to focus on the important stuff.

Tender Improvement

If you’re already tendering but aren’t seeing the results you want, our Tender Improvement package can help. We’ll assess your previous submissions, providing some feedback and guidance that will increase your chance of winning next time around.

Tender Ready

Tender Ready is a programme that’s perfect for those who have never tendered before. This programme works with you, ensuring you have everything in place to tender successfully.

Where to find contract laboratory services

Knowing where to find contract laboratory services can seem like a daunting process. It can take hours searching hundreds of websites to find an opportunity that’s right for your business.

The good news is the Healthcare Tenders is here to help. Healthcare Tenders is a tendering platform that hosts hundreds of new opportunities in this sector from across the UK. We have a range of private and public sector opportunities.

Our portal can help save you time, give you tailored support and streamline the process. We don’t rely on inaccurate CPV codes. Instead, we manually tag relevant opportunities via keyword, budget, location and more. This means you get access to 100% of all available live tenders that are relevant to you.

Below are some past tenders for contract laboratory services that were sourced on our portal:

Supply, Delivery, Rental and Maintenance of Specialised Laboratory Gas

NI Water and its subsidiaries- International- Budget: Undisclosed


BAS Beach Hut Laboratory

UK Shared Business Services Limited- South West- Budget: £75,000


Laboratory Equipment for toxicology and pharmacology applications

Bournemouth University- South East- Budget: Undisclosed


2021/105 – Delivery, Installation and Commissioning of Laboratory Fridges & Freezers

University of Leeds- Yorkshire and Humber- Budget: £50,000


Framework for the Supply and Delivery of Laboratory Consumables and Chemicals

Queen’s University Belfast- Northern Irelands- Budget: Undisclosed


Why join Healthcare Tenders?

  • Our Opportunity Trackers manually search hundreds of sources daily to ensure you never miss a tender.
  • They post tendering opportunities on our Healthcare Tenders portal. They then tag them with accurate keywords instead of relying on CPV codes which are often incorrect.
  • You can easily filter results via region, budget, keyword and more. This means you’ll never miss an opportunity for contract laboratory services
  • You can receive a daily email bulletin when new tenders are released. You’ll also be able to access the portal 24-hours a day.
  • You’ll be assigned a dedicated Account Manager. They will be on hand to answer any queries or questions you may have about the portal or tendering process.
  • You can have a free 20-minute phone consultation with our Bid Writing experts. They can provide you with advice and guidance related to your tendering journey.

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