Comprising eight administrative departments, Paris Region – the winner of fDi's European Region of the Future 2020/21 title – is the most densely populated of France’s 18 regions despite covering only 12,012 square kilometres. Home to more than 500,000 businesses, 29 Fortune Global 500 company headquarters and 150,000 researchers, the region has solidified its status as one of Europe’s economic powerhouses.


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Regional companies made more than 2700 outward investments in the five years to September 2019, while Paris Region welcomed almost 1400 FDI projects in the same period (the highest of all 148 regions analysed). Almost one-third of the inward investments were made by US-based companies, and more than 75% were in sales, marketing and support or business operations.

The region’s FDI performance contributed significantly to it placing first in the large region category for Economic Potential. In addition, Paris Region attracted the most capital investment in R&D projects in the same period. In November 2018, Nokia Bell Labs, a subsidiary of Finland-based Nokia, created 400 new jobs at its 5G development centre in Nozay, a commune in the Essonne department. In January 2018, Japan-based JST invested €50m to open a new R&D centre in Montigny-le-Bretonneux, creating 90 jobs.

Paris Region also comes second in the large regions’ Human Capital and Lifestyle category. It is home to about 640,000 students and has more of the world’s top 500 universities than any other region in the study, with 10.

Large euro regions

Dublin’s record year

Dublin Region comes second in the overall ranking of European regions and is first in the small regions classification. The region experienced year-on-year growth in inward FDI-generated jobs and investment between 2014 and 2018, with a record $5.43bn investment and 12,393 jobs from inward FDI projects in 2018, the highest amount since fDi Markets’ records began in 2003. These results greatly contributed to the region topping the small regions’ Economic Potential category. Dublin Region also excelled in the category’s per capita data points, attracting both the highest number of inward FDI projects and the highest number of mega-projects by capital expenditure per 100,000 people.

Dublin Region is crowned the best small region for Business Friendliness largely because investors benefit from a 12.5% corporation tax rate and can start a business in just five days. This investor-friendly climate is demonstrated by the fact that Dublin Region attracted the most expansion and co-location projects per 100,000 people out of all regions studied. Of the companies that cited a motive for their investment in the region between October 2014 and September 2019, 49.1% were influenced by the availability of a skilled workforce, 28.1% by its regulatory environment and 26.3% by technology and innovation.

NRW's strength in numbers

North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, ranks third out of all European regions. As home to 30 of the 81 German cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, including Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Essen, as well as other cities predominantly located in the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area, it is the largest urban area in Germany and the third largest in Europe.

Between October 2014 and September 2019, the region attracted 929 inward FDI projects, the second highest number of all regions studied. Of these projects, more than one-third were established in Düsseldorf and 11.02% were in Cologne. It is the most attractive investment region in Germany, accounting for the largest share of the country’s inward FDI projects (one-fifth) during the period analysed, at 19.67%.