@UK PLC (AIM:ATUK.L), the cloud ecommerce marketplace, today announces the award of a five year contract by JISC Advance, a not-for-profit company financed by grants from the UK funding councils for further and higher education, to supply an ecommerce eMarketplace for Universities in the UK. The contract is worth approximately £1 million with £400,000 in the first year and £150,000 per year in each of the four subsequent years.
@UK has been awarded a ground breaking project to deploy a single contract management system and integrated ecommerce marketplace through which, once implemented, it is expected much of the higher education sector’s buying will take place, providing the opportunity for significant cost savings.
The eMarketplace is a secure system which enables buyers within the Universities to purchase online from a database of commercial suppliers ranging from large corporations to SMEs. Buying and selling will take place with no paperwork, reducing the chance of errors through transposition, achieving major savings through the supply chain. The marketplace ensures that prices are correct from requisition to payment – unlike catalogue-based marketplaces which cannot support carriage, complex pricing and configurable products.
The only payment mechanism will be by way of a purchasing card, making this the first true ecommerce marketplace to be implemented by any sector in the UK. Unlike traditional marketplace deployments, the Generic eMarketplace (GeM) will behave like an enhanced 'Amazon.com' with full ecommerce functionality including the ability to store and charge cards following purchase.
The contract award is an exciting endorsement of @UK's technology which recognised two of its unique attributes - the ability to handle highly secure card payments and its cloud architecture. The marketplace is planned to go live in August 2011 and will be available to all UK universities, as well as being available to Further Education Colleges.
@UK's ability to provide a robust, scalable cloud based solution which could be quickly configured and deployed was a key success factor in winning this project, which is expected to revolutionise the way in which the higher education sector buys goods and services. The sector is working to analyse and reduce its carbon footprint and the marketplace’s carbon footprint technology is an added benefit.
Commenting on the award, Ronald Duncan, Chairman of @UK, said:
"We are absolutely delighted to have won our largest contract to date and excited about working with the further and higher education sectors to help them to implement genuine ecommerce and save money. The project and approach are visionary and the Higher Education team has demonstrated that this is about making real and sustainable change, rather than merely box ticking. It is clear that this is a game changing award, not only for @UK but also for the wider public sector."
@UK will be responsible for technical deployment and supplier support to the new service, which will see all participating suppliers paid within three days. Importantly all sizes and types of suppliers can participate equally as they will be given full B2B ecommerce and banking integration as part of the service, allowing them to securely accept payment regardless of their existing capability.
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