The publishing and use of open data is an area of relevance to inward investment. Open data brings the potential to improve the way businesses learn about locations and decide where they should be investing. It provides a great opportunity for locations to tell very accurate, up-to-date and detailed stories about themselves to potential investors. The Open Data Barometer provides global rankings on how countries are performing in using open data. Of the 86 countries examined, the UK ranks number one in the world followed by the US and Sweden. Openness in data reflects positively on openness for business.
The United States is the world’s number one FDI location, and particularly for tech companies it is an important market to consider. So for those looking at the US market, it is worth considering a visit to the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, DC on March 23-24 to connect with a whole host of investment promotion agencies from cities, states and regions across the country as well as senior U.S. Government officials.
The importance of cities in economic terms has been nicely presented in the Centre for Cities Cities Outlook 2015
It highlights that while cities only take up 9% of the UK’s landmass, they account for:
- 54% of businesses
- 54% of population
- 59% of jobs
- 63% of Gross Value Added
- 72% of high-skilled jobs
- 78% of new migrants
It has always been a bit of a struggle to clearly understand the details of the UK government’s R&D Tax Credits scheme. Thankfully Oury Clark can be of help with this.
We have been working with some Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in the UK recently, and the ones we have been dealing with are great examples of local partnership agencies that have a granular understanding of their area and are good at storytelling to attract inward investment.
Yesterday we learned the story of Team London Bridge and how they are working to reveal the wonders of the London Bridge area. Developing an identity for the area has been an important part of this process and to get a flavour of London Bridge it is worth checking out their video.
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.