Top 10 Local Enterprise Partnerships of the Future

Local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) were introduced to England in 2011 as part of a UK government initiative that saw them replace regional development agencies. In total, 39 LEPs are in operation with responsibilities for leading job creation and growth within their local areas. fDi Magazine has ranked these LEPs, as part of its European Cities and Regions of the Future 2016/17 ranking.

Of all 39 LEPs analysed, London generated the highest GDP by purchasing power parity (PPP) in absolute terms, as well as per 100,000 people. In terms of GDP by PPP growth, Oxfordshire grew at the fastest rate between 2010 and 2014 of all LEPs (Figure 1).


Thames Valley Berkshire had the highest number of R&D FDI projects per 100,000 people. Indeed, there are advanced plans to establish a science park in the LEP’s jurisdiction, which will be located at the University of Reading and will be the first of its kind in the area, providing more space for technology companies. Advanced manufacturing FDI per 100,000 people was highest in Tees Valley, in the north of England.

Average annual GDP growth top five and bottom five LEP areas

Labour advantage 

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly offered the lowest labour costs for three skill levels, while London was the most expensive for investors (Figure 2). The Heart of the South West was the most affordable LEP zone for office space, while the North Eastern region offered investors the most cost-effective industrial property.

Greater Manchester placed first in the FDI Strategy category for LEPs. The internationalisation strategy in place in the LEP provides three-year plans for target source countries. Midas, Manchester’s promotion agency that operates on behalf of the LEP, works closely with local partners, including universities and the city’s airport, to target and communicate with specific companies to provide value propositions. Soft landing competitions are on offer, and are run in conjunction with national trade and investment agency UK Trade & Investment and other industry partners. Successful companies win a soft landing package and some previous winners have made a permanent base in Greater Manchester as a result. Additional support is also available to investing companies in the form of a range of grants and funds, while the ‘Hello Manchester’ soft landing scheme offers companies rent-free desk space, discounted legal advice and support services for marketing and promotional activities, among others.

Liverpool LEP ranked second in the FDI Strategy category. The agency works in partnership with Invest Liverpool in promoting the location as a destination for investors. Liverpool is due to host the International Festival for Business in 2016 on behalf of the UK, a global event focused on trade and investment. Five mayoral development zones have been set up in the city, areas that are the focus for infrastructure developments and which offer potential investors a range of incentives and support. The Liverpool in Work initiative, for example, offers investors a free turnkey recruitment service.

Northamptonshire placed third of all LEPs for its FDI Strategy. Companies that have recently established a presence in London – an hour away from the LEP’s region by train – are targeted directly, with the aim of attracting any companies wishing to expand their UK presence outside of the capital. The agency is very active on social media, in addition to hosting two websites providing a plethora of information to potential investors. 

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