Q: How would you characterise Copenhagen’s FDI competitiveness compared with other northern European cities? What are its strengths as an FDI destination?
A: Copenhagen is the most attractive location in Denmark for foreign companies. Yearly, Copenhagen attracts more foreign companies than Stockholm, our closest competitor, however the companies grow bigger and create more jobs in Stockholm. Our ambition is to be the best in Scandinavia at attracting foreign companies and jobs to our region. At the same time, it is important that we attract the right companies that bring new knowledge and growth to Denmark.
And, we have the right foundations – Copenhagen Airport is the largest among the Nordic countries, and with 14,000 researchers and 17 science parks and research universities, Greater Copenhagen offers Scandinavia’s most knowledge-intensive research and business environment. Because of our welfare system, Danish social security rates and employers’ costs are some of the lowest in Europe. Copenhagen is 15% to 20% cheaper than Stockholm in terms of salary, social security costs and office rates. Finally, Copenhagen is frequently voted the most livable city in the world.
Q: What weaknesses does Copenhagen have as an FDI destination?
A: One weakness is our size. We are a small capital city, but we’ve been working very closely with our colleagues around Copenhagen, and we’ve created the Greater Copenhagen Organisation with all the municipalities in Zealand and in Skåne, southern Sweden. So we have a very well integrated labour market in this region, counting 3.9 million inhabitants.
Q: So you wouldn't say that you’ve experienced difficulties in maintaining FDI levels?
A: No. Since the financial crisis, which brought all investments down to a new level, we have seen a steep incline in the number of jobs created by companies and investments in Copenhagen and Greater Copenhagen. Today, 20% to 25% of all new investments in real estate are coming from abroad, so we are well under way to being a truly international city.
Q: What main initiatives is the city pursuing at the moment that could have an impact on investment attraction?
A: We have very ambitious plans to be the first carbon-neutral city in 2020, and we are on our way. Between 1995 and 2014, we reduced our carbon emissions by 45%, making Copenhagen a frontrunner as one of the most rapidly transforming cities to be greener and more sustainable. Companies were innovating new solutions for cities in Copenhagen, and using Copenhagen as a kind of laboratory. They can use Copenhagen as a hub to bring all of these solutions that have been developed together.
This green transformation goes hand in hand with job creation and a good economy, and I think that’s a very important message to send to mayors around the world. It’s not only possible to go green, it is also clever if you want to have a good economy for your citizens and for the city.
I am sure that Copenhagen will remain an attractive location for international companies, but it is important that the foreign companies become part of the local ecosystem so that the local economy can benefit from the new technologies and know-how.