Bidding consortia comprising small and medium-sized construction firms will soon be springing up around the country, following a successful pilot project in Hampshire.

Key Consortia, a limited company set up by local contractors and architects, has paved the way by winning a share of a £180m regeneration scheme in Portsmouth and Gosport.

The company was set up with the help of Business Link Hampshire, which is funded by the Department of Trade and Industry and the DETR.

By uniting, small firms can gain the critical mass they need to take on large players. The idea has been used in the farming, fishing and transport industries and is now being promoted by Business Links to small and medium-sized construction companies throughout the country.

John Edgar, chief executive of Business Net, specialises in training Business Link advisers to bring companies together. He has been bombarded with responses after sending a release explaining the Hampshire scheme to small builders, architects and subcontractors.

Joining a consortium is a good way to jump the supply chain; small firms have greater resources to tender for bigger projects John Edgar, chief executive, business net

"There has been tremendous interest from all over the country," Edgar said.

"We've been a little bit surprised at how quick the response has been. There have been a number of faxes and phone calls from areas including Worcester, Birmingham, Bristol and the South-west." Joining a consortium is a good way of jumping up the supply chain, said Edgar. "Being in a consortium means small firms have greater resources to tender for bigger projects and can call on the experience of network brokers to set it up." Business Link advisers have had talks with the Construction Industry Training Board to see whether the consortium could pool its members' training resources.

The advisers plan to contact both the Federation of Master Builders and the National Federation of Builders to bring forward more companies that are interested in the scheme.