A very smart move from the city of Bristol which is planning to re-use old Rediffusion underground ducts which were used to bring cable television to the city in the 1970s. This infrastructure which is now owned by the city council and which covers 100 miles under the streets of the greater Bristol area, will now be used for superfast fibre linked to sensors across the city (in buildings, lampposts, traffic lights, in handheld devices such as mobile phones etc.) to provide a super-connected live laboratory for learning more about the city and trying out new city tech and services. A key driver for smart cities is to do more with less, and a big step in this is increasing the utilisation and optimisation of existing city assets. By going underground, Bristol is going forward.
The recent Scottish Referendum has pushed the issue of devolution on to the headlines, and cities, towns and regions across the UK are now looking at how they can use devolution to give them more independence in how they operate.
London and Manchester are two examples where local authorities are working together to secure better local integration and stronger fiscal autonomy to help them address their challenges and opportunities. This local collective approach can help break through the strong silos established from the current highly centralised approach of the UK.
Greater local control and capability doesn’t just mean more local cross-boundary working, it also means that the towns and cities can work with whoever they want, which could mean partnering with cities and businesses on the other side of the world. A movement to empowering the local could allow UK cities and towns to become a lot smarter. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out.
This week London was host to the first fDi Forum which provided an excellent overview of how corporates are operating globally. Despite all the different (and many scary) challenges appearing on the global risk landscape, companies are still getting on with business and growing across borders. In particular we were delighted to see tech start-ups getting a high profile in the conversation, and also to hear from big tech corporates such as Google, Dell, Johnson & Johnson, Samsung, Fujitsu, 3M and the Airbus Group. Very useful market intelligence indeed.
While much of the media attention is on London for the latest tech start-ups and big funding news, other UK cities are quietly getting their act together and making themselves much more glamorous for tech companies. We are hearing good things about the city of Derby which has focused on building up its fibre provision and is now one of the best connected locations in the country. The tech companies are starting to take notice.
Congratulations to Australia which is the most liveable country on our planet. The Economist has just published its Liveability Index for 2014 and Australia has 4 cities in the Top 10 with Melbourne at No.1. Canada also does well with 3 cities, while Europe only has 2 cities in the Top 10.
We are involved in an exciting high street development project, and would like to get your thoughts on it. Many thanks if you are able to fill in our short survey
It is always good to hear about the many and varied manufacturing businesses in the UK. To add to this engaging narrative is the diligent research of Make Works in Scotland which has been hunting down Scottish makers and manufacturers through an extensive road trip across the country (in a tartan volkswagen campervan of course). A great initiative to keep production local.
A very useful read for cities wanting to attract infrastructure investment is Investor Ready Cities produced by Siemens, PWC and Berwin Leighton Paisner.
Our favourite take out from the report on pg 96:
“A city’s ability to deliver the necessary urban infrastructure for sustainable and effective growth is intrinsically linked to its ability to attract and retain capital, both in terms of human resources and talent as well as financial capital. At a time of intense competition between cities, the ability to attract such mobile capital will define success.
To deliver sustainable urban infrastructure, and to attract the necessary investment, a coherent narrative, supported by an investment ready legal and regulatory framework, is needed around funding which will increase the chance of a successful financing.”
It was a pleasure last week to meet up with senior executives from Invest Shanghai, and to hear about the Shanghai Investment Promotion Partnership (SIPP) which is a partnership platform to facilitate co-operation, communication and service delivery with overseas investment promotion agencies (IPAs) for both inbound and outbound investment. Shanghai is the largest city in the world; the world’s number one FDI destination; and is increasingly becoming a significant source of outbound investment. So it is a no-brainer for overseas IPAs to get involved with Invest Shanghai’s SIPP.
Helsinki is hosting the Baltic Sea Region IPA Forum 9 & 10 June. Organised by One BSR this will be a useful event for investment promotion agencies wanting to learn about the latest trends and best practices in inward investment.