Scotland has topped the FDI Strategy ranking for large European regions. National economic development agency Scottish Enterprise has a team of 225 people working to promote the region to foreign investors, and operates with a network of 29 international offices in all major world regions. Its internal sales academy offers continuous professional development to all staff, including training and language courses.

On top of this, the agency has a dedicated online presence, with an investment promotion website, and a social media strategy including membership of LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Chinese social media microblogging site Weibo, in order to tap into the Chinese market. Regular newsletters are also sent to a readership of approximately 23,500 people. The strategy Scotland is employing appears to be working, as FDI projects have increased year on year between 2011 and 2014. The number of jobs has also increased in this time, peaking 2014.

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NRW’s big welcome

NRW Invest is the agency responsible for investment promotion and attraction in Germany’s most populous region, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), which has ranked second among all large European regions for FDI Strategy. The agency operates two subsidiaries in Tokyo and in Chicago, while additional representative offices are active in China, Russia, South Korea, India and Turkey.

Any company coming to NRW from outside of the EU receives a welcome package, which includes information on relocating to the region, along with Ä3000-worth of vouchers that can be redeemed against the cost of legal advice and services. NRW is also making strides in ICT infrastructure development, with bandwidth speeds of more than 50 megabits per second available in 69% of households. The regional government is spending Ä500m to improve broadband infrastructure.

Lombardy, the largest region in Italy, situated in the north of the country, ranked third of all large regions. Judges were impressed with the actions of the main economic promotion agency, Invest in Lombardy, which takes part in one roadshow per month in strategic global locations, in co-operation with regional and national governments. Eight incubators are in operation in the region, offered to foreign investors as part of the ‘Land in Lombardy’ project, which allows these companies access to ready-to-use workspaces for periods up to three months.

Wonderful in Copenhagen

Greater Copenhagen region ranked first of all mid-sized regions for FDI Strategy, following a submission from Copenhagen Capacity, the region’s investment promotion body. The agency operates several initiatives to attract foreign investment, including ‘International House Copenhagen’, a facility aimed to ease entry into Denmark, offering a one-point entry service, which handles all formal paperwork within a couple of hours. Copenhagen Capacity’s website is offered in many languages, including German, Chinese, Japanese and French. Sub-sites are also available to allow municipalities to promote themselves, as well as a site to support the Medicon Valley Life Sciences Cluster.

Italy’s Tuscany region ranked second of all mid-sized regions. The judges were impressed by the region’s digital offering, which encompassed a new digital content section on its website in November 2015. This contains guides on doing business in Tuscany and costs of setting up there. Video testimonials are also available on the website from companies already operating in the region, as well as a video from fDi Magazine – the fDi On Location: Tuscany video showcasing the benefits of locating there.

The UK’s least populated region, Northern Ireland, ranked third of all mid-sized European regions. Its Invest NI promotion agency operates with 90 staff dedicated to attracting investors. The agency offers familiarisation visits for staff from its foreign offices, so they are in the best position to advise and influence potential investors. There are some major infrastructure developments ongoing in the region, including Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, which is attracting companies from the media sector and is supported by a digital hub in the Cathedral Quarter of the city. In the north of the region, two former army bases are currently under development in Derry/Londonderry. One is being regenerated as a creative and digital hub, while the second houses the North West Regional Science Park. The park seeks to intensify knowledge sharing and expertise in the region’s knowledge sector. 

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