Once again, fDi’s ranking of England's local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) is topped by London LEP. This result, coupled with London being awarded overall European City of the Future 2020/21 award, unequivocally shows that the location remains a powerhouse for FDI, even with Brexit in the offing.
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London LEP’s phenomenal FDI performance undoubtedly helped it triumph in the Economic Potential category. The LEP attracted 28.32% more inward FDI projects between October 2014 and September 2019 than the 37 other LEPs combined – and was also responsible for both the highest number of outward FDI projects and the highest GDP, which helped secure its comfortable victory
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Ranked first in the Human Capital and Lifestyle category, London LEP boasts the highest number of students, higher education institutions and top 500 universities of all the LEPs in the ranking. It also tops Business Friendliness with the highest number of companies in the knowledge-based sector, jobs created by inward FDI and Top 1000 World Banks, based on The Banker's annual ranking.
Thames Valley Berkshire LEP places second overall as well as second in the Economic Potential and Business Friendliness categories, and two locations within the LEP, Slough and Newbury, also shone in their classifications. Slough is crowned best small European city and Newbury comes in fourth in the overall micro cities classification.
In November 2018, US-based data centre provider Equinix announced plans to invest $120m in a new flagship data centre at its campus in Slough. In February of the same year, Portugal-based Celfinet, a telecommunications consultancy firm, expanded its office in Newbury. The expansion has created 50 jobs and represented a £3m ($3.96m) investment.
Oxfordshire jumps up
Oxfordshire is the third ranked LEP, rising from 11th place in the 2018/19 study. Between October 2014 and September 2019, the LEP secured investments from a wide range of multinational companies including Denmark-based pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, Germany-based meal-kit company HelloFresh and Germany-based car giant BMW.
In 2018, Abbott (UK), a healthcare solutions developer and subsidiary of US-based Abbott Laboratories, invested £110m in the expansion of its FreeStyle Libre production line at its site in Witney, creating 96 new jobs. The LEP comes in third in the Economic Potential category and excelled in per capita data points, including the number of mega-projects by capital expenditure per 100,000 people and number of patents per 100,000 people.
Coventry and Warwickshire has been named top LEP for FDI Strategy. A partnership of teams operates under the Invest in Coventry & Warwickshire brand including Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council and the Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub. These teams also work closely with local stakeholders including the C&W Chamber of Commerce, local universities, local Catapult centres (for innovation) and R&D centres of excellence. Given its proximity to various original equipment manufacturers and research universities, as well as a strong skills base, the LEP is fast becoming a European hub for inward powertrain investment.
The University of Warwick is home to both the Advanced Propulsion Centre showcase and the £150m National Automotive Innovation Centre. In addition, the £126m UK Battery Industrialisation Centre will open in April 2020, a government-supported centre of excellence focused on battery design, development and manufacturing for vehicle electrification.
Coventry & Warwickshire’s ‘Silicon Spa’ games development cluster, based in and around Royal Leamington Spa, is one of the largest in the UK and accounts for more than 10% of the country’s total industry workforce. The LEP offers a range of financial and non-financial incentives to potential investors including SME competitiveness grants, innovation R&D grants, skills and workforce development programmes and links to local business networks and supply chain forums.