Barcelona, on Spain’s north-east coast, topped the FDI Strategy ranking for all major cities. The City Council of Barcelona encourages its staff to undertake training, including team workshops and roundtable gatherings, in order to polish and improve their skills and offer investors the best possible service. Team members are also encouraged to attend industry seminars and events.

The city has an impressive online presence, with a dedicated website and e-newsletters, while a database of useful contacts is also maintained in order to promote Barcelona as an investment destination. A new sustainable urban growth area is planned for the city, which will feature facilities, utilities, residential properties and a park. Other infrastructure developments are under way in the city, including the Metro Line 9, which, once completed, will be the longest underground rail line in Europe.


Building up London

London finished in second position in the FDI Strategy category for major cities, through its promotion agency London & Partners, which submitted an entry for the ranking. More than 160 people are employed by the agency, many of whom work in global offices in cities such as Shanghai, New York and Mumbai, while additional representative staff work in Australia, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Germany and France. Staff come together annually for a conference in London, and trade missions are organised with the city’s mayor – in 2015 alone, trade missions took place in New York, Japan and Israel.

Judges were impressed by the many infrastructure projects currently taking place in the city, including the Crossrail project, which is set to open in 2018 and is the largest engineering project in Europe. Upon completion, an additional 1.5 million people will be within 60 minutes commuting distance of central London. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a 227-hectare commercial and residential development, while £8bn ($11.4bn) is being spent to develop the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea area of the city, which will offer more than 3000 homes, and 335,000 square metres of retail, leisure, hotel and office space.

Swedish capital Stockholm secured a third place ranking, thanks to many initiatives offered by Stockholm Business Alliance. The agency operates a website dedicated solely to talent attraction (‘Move to Stockholm’), which includes information on the benefits of working in the city as well as sections with property listings and news stories. Stockholm Business Region Development provides a range of services free of charge to companies, including investor matchmaking services and establishment support for investing companies.

Manchester moves up

Manchester, in the North West England region, was declared the winner of all large European cities for its FDI Strategy. In total, 14 staff in investment promotion agency Midas are responsible for facilitating inward investment in the city, and training is provided to them by UK Trade & Investment and other specialists. Midas offers a string of interesting initiatives, including M:Bassador, which recruits business leaders and sector specialists to promote Greater Manchester internationally, offering potential investors intricate knowledge of, and an honest insight into, the city.

Invest Glasgow ensured that Glasgow, the most populous city in Scotland, ranked second among large European cities for FDI Strategy. The agency commissioned a specialist FDI consultancy to evaluate and benchmark the city’s performance in relation to its direct competitors. In addition, Invest Glasgow often partners with national trade and promotion organisations, such as Scottish Development International and Scottish Enterprise, as well as the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.

Several initiatives are in place to attract investors, including Glasgow Bio-Corridor, which currently accounts for 36% of Scotland’s life sciences industry. The Bio-Corridor received £1bn in investment to develop western Europe’s largest hospital complex. Infrastructure developments are in place to make Glasgow a smart city, including the Future Glasgow Initiative, which received the Geospatial World Excellence award in 2015. The city also offers the ‘Glasgow Guarantee’, which offers up to 50% wage subsidies for employing interns and graduates below 20 years of age.

Munich, the largest city in Germany’s Bavaria state, ranked as the third best large European city for FDI Strategy. The team in charge of its economic promotion and development is based at City Hall, and is divided into seven sub-groups, including marketing and international communications, in order to effectively manage inward investment promotion. Specific intercultural development training is provided to staff, to ensure they are equipped to manage cultural sensitivities that may arise when approaching potential investors. A dedicated Service Centre for International Professionals is provided, offering specific advice on immigration and visa matters. Munich is also a city dedicated to developing start-ups, with an office dealing exclusively with matters
such as self-employment and preparing business plans. The city also provides a specialist web portal for start-ups, including a start-up map and information on services available to entrepreneurs.

Wrocław’s win

Wrocaw Agglomeration Develop-ment Agency ensured that Wrocaw, located in the west of Poland, ranked first among mid-sized European cities. The agency is split into two units, including a business support centre and a centre for promotion and services, while it regularly participates in economic missions, trade fairs and overseas conferences. The agency is engaged online, with a detailed foreign investment website, as well as websites dedicated to relocating to Wrocaw, a site for students in the city to encourage them to stay and work there, and a mobile app to help investors find a place in the city to invest.

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and Liverpool, a city of more than 470,000 people in the North West England region, ranked joint-second in this category. Edinburgh City Council works to maintain and build upon the relationships the city has with other global locations, in particular Munich and the Chinese city of Shenzhen. The council works closely with the Bavarian government to promote the city to businesses in Germany, while it also has an agreement with Shenzhen to encourage more investment between the two locations. More incubator space has been created in both Edinburgh and Shenzhen to encourage investors, while Edinburgh also offers free soft landing services, including advice on property, market data and access to work and meeting spaces.

Invest Liverpool, which works in close partnership with Liverpool LEP, operates an office in London targeting global companies that have invested in London and may expand in the UK. The office provides access to deskspace, board rooms and membership to the London Chamber of Commerce. These services are also offered to companies that have invested in Liverpool and need a presence in the UK capital. The city is involved in some large developments, including Sensor City, a business incubator focused on the development of hi-tech companies; and Material Innovation Factory, which is designed to foster research, design and innovation capabilities. These initiatives aim to promote knowledge transfer between key sector experts.

Ireland’s most southern city, Cork, ranked first of all European small cities for FDI Strategy. Cork City Council works in partnership with IDA Ireland, the national investment and promotion agency, to promote the city as an investment destination. Cork is proactive in targeting specialist sectors, and recently organised an event to showcase the city as a prime location for data storage and data centre development. The city’s port is due to receive a €100m development, which will facilitate the passage of larger ships and increase port traffic.

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