Future-proofing Europe’s FDI Hotspots

Mark O’Connell – 14 Mar, 2019 – European Perspective

In spite of Brexit and other global uncertainties the sun was shining on MIPIM, the global real estate show in Cannes this week. The atmosphere was optimistic and investor confidence continues to be resilient. Several leading UK Cities attended, including Cardiff who were among a cohort of their European and international counterparts.

I had the pleasure to moderate a panel of leaders from 4 European cities including Cardiff, Lisbon, Frankfurt and Stockholm, I was joined by Cardiff City Region Leader Huw Thomas, Rui Coelho Executive Director Invest Lisboa, CEO of FrankfurtRheinMain GmbH Eric Menges and CEO of Invest Stockholm Erik Krüger.

So, what do these places have in common?

They all have demonstrated growth and resilience in attracting Foreign investment in the face of Brexit, and in some cases because of it. Their civic leaderships have worked in partnership with local business, educators, policy makers and developers to cultivate an investment environment that is underpinned by the 3 T’s, as described by leading academic Richard Florida; ‘Technology, Talent and Tolerance.’

The panel agreed that the new frontier for attracting high value tech jobs in areas like cyber, AI and Blockchain is access to talent, both homegrown and imported. Plus, the creation of an enabling technology environment in terms of access to funding, infrastructure, IP protection and collaboration with 3rd level centres of excellence.

Lastly, and perhaps the biggest, challenge in a world which seems to be regressing to nativist views, is to show that cities offer diversity, inclusivity, equal opportunities and are attractive places to both live and work.

That Cardiff’s case was presented by such young and dynamic Leader as Leader of Cardiff Council Huw Thomas sent a powerful message to the audience about the cities’ ambition and resonated with the investors of tomorrow.

The panel session was neatly concluded by Rui Coelho from Lisbon who remarked that the soul of a city, it’s people, history, character and culture are the key differentiators in today’s competitive FDI arena.