After the UK's super feel-good Olympics and Paralympics, will Europe continue with the winning team spirit, or are we moving in to a grumbling, fractious winter of discontent?
If we are to get more closures and strikes, can we at least see some risk-taking and innovation from governments and their investment promotion agencies? Now is the time for some very active aftercare of existing foreign investors. No longer is it enough to have a few customer relationship managers gently conversing with a clutch of chosen strategic companies and trying to get some influence at their corporate headquarters. Ramp it up and spread it out! Get busy with the local companies to help make Europe still work for them.
We can still make things in Europe, and we may even be seeing the return of local manufacturing given the uncertainty and risks from currency fluctuations, rising wage costs in emerging economies, negative media coverage on overseas working practices, emerging technologies such as three-dimensions printing allowing for personal manufacturing, and advances in artificial intelligence and production robotics. All of these factors help to reposition Europe more competitively in the cost-quality matrix.
So help the local plants win the new investment projects internally or even help them outsource their capabilities to new clients, make sure that they are working with the best local partners and help foster a culture of open innovation, and even invest in some new business models with them. Help them make use of surplus space and workers – turn unused plants and machinery in to hackerspaces (open community workspaces where new businesses and ideas can be tested out) and connect under-used staff with the entrepreneurs needing to scale up fast.
Most importantly, see if it is possible to cut through European red tape to give the businesses the freedom and flexibility to win. If we want to keep Europe in the medals, the government agencies need to become much more dynamic and creative with their investor support.
Douglas Clark is director of Location Connections, a site selection and FDI consultancy. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org