When it comes to innovation, the Irish do it best. That is the finding of fDi’s worldwide search for the most unique, ground-breaking and creative investment promotion techniques.

With fewer greenfield projects on offer and yet more viable investment destinations in the mix, attracting investment is only getting tougher. Among the most difficult tasks facing investment promotion agencies (IPAs) is finding ways to differentiate their locations from their competitors. This is where an innovative approach becomes essential. Just as companies must innovate to compete, so must economic developers.

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The results 

Click on the link below for a PDF version of the complete results:

Innovative strategies can be found the world over, as fDi discovered in this exercise, but they appear to be found in greatest density in Ireland, with IDA Ireland already well established as one of the world’s savviest investment agencies, a new organisation, ConnectIreland, pushing the envelop with a novel approach to lead generation and even its recruitment firms getting enthusiastically behind the effort.

What marks out the Irish FDI initiatives is their combination of sound and thorough strategies – all bases are covered, from multimedia and traditional marketing to lead generation to aftercare – with a sense of fun. It is FDI, with a feisty Celtic flair, and it works.

fDi columnist Douglas Clark, director of site selection and FDI consultancy Location Connections, who assisted with the judging, was pleased to see locations using their smart-city development plans to leverage investment. “By using the ‘urban laboratory’ offer, they are tapping in to a huge emerging market of smart infrastructure investors and services providers,” he says.

He also noted the growing importance of tech start-ups as a key target segment for some locations but was surprised that only a few agencies are offering business matchmaking services, as many FDI projects in which he is involved are seeking a good local partner to help start up the business, “and this is an area where IPAs could add a lot of value”.

Likewise he was dismayed that many agencies crowed about their internal processes rather than how they were seeking out and capturing good market opportunities.

“Just because you have started using a new customer relationship management system doesn’t make you instantly innovative – it is all about what you do with it to engage effectively with the market,” he says.
Methodology

In order to compile fDi’s IPA Innovation Awards 2013, fDi invited those entities charged with FDI promotion to complete an online survey detailing their most innovative strategies. As investment promotion is a highly competitive and increasingly challenging endeavour, fDi wanted to identify those entities that stood out from the crowd. The aim was to identify those entities that offer more than just a ‘one-stop shop’ for FDI services.

fDi received 55 submissions. This information was then considered by fDi’s editorial team, along with Jacqueline Walls, senior investment analyst for fDi Intelligence, and Douglas Clark.

Click on the link below for a PDF version of the complete results: