In the inaugural fDi Strategy Awards 2016, Barcelona’s investment promotion agency has taken top honours, with awards going to cities all over the world for their efforts to promote, attract and retain investment in categories as diverse as regeneration, expatriate support, technology centres and job creation incentives. Cathy Mullan reports.


More from this report: FDI Strategy Awards 2016 – Return on Investment winners

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IPA of the Year

The City Council of Barcelona has been named as our IPA of the Year in the inaugural fDi Strategy Awards 2016. The city offered the judging panel a well thought out and clearly defined strategy, marrying the clever use of technology and urban planning strategies with overall promotion effectively. The city’s successful FDI record is testament to these efforts, with the support of a top-class regional agency, Catalonia Trade & Investment. During a time when FDI flows to Europe have been in decline, both Barcelona and wider Catalonia have seen increases. 

Trade missions, networking events and a sense of community engages the agency with investors at every stage of the process, while practical assistance for companies is a standard offering.  


We are really thankful for such public recognition to our way of promoting Barcelona and attracting inward investment.  I expect that this new award will help our city to improve the quality of our services

Jaume Collboni, Deputy Mayor of Enterprise, Culture and Innovation, City Council of Barcelona

Expat support

Amsterdam, Netherlands (Amsterdam Inbusiness)

The city’s Expatcenter aims to meet the needs of international companies and their expatriate employees, including providing a single point of contact for all practical information.

Brno, Czech Republic (Brno City Municipality)

The city’s Expat Centre helps foreign professionals working and living in the city, providing information and consultancy services.

China strategy

Edinburgh, UK (City of Edinburgh Council)

Edinburgh has a strategic alliance with Shenzhen in southern China, and provides incubator space in the city for investors from Shenzhen, with a reciprocal facility in China for investors coming from Edinburgh.

Manchester, UK (Manchester Investment and Development Agency Service)

The city is engaged in the Manchester China Forum in order to build links with the Chinese market, efforts that have been bolstered by the Beijing Construction Engineering Group’s work on the city’s airport, securing links to Hong Kong.

Nottingham, UK (Nottingham City Council)

Nottingham City Council operates an office in Ningbo, which has been identified as a target area for attracting investment. Trade delegations have been sent to China to promote this strategy.

Chicago, US (World Business Chicago)

The city’s China strategy has generated a memorandum of understanding, making Chicago the US FDI gateway for several Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin. World Business Chicago also has an office in China.

India strategy

Manchester, UK (Manchester Investment and Development Agency Service)

Manchester’s India Steering Group was established to leverage opportunities and build links with the Indian market.

Nottingham, UK (Nottingham City Council)

Nottingham City Council has office space in Chandigarh, while also sending trade delegations to India. 

Performance management

Barcelona, Spain (City Council of Barcelona)

In addition to workshops and roundtable gatherings to improve staff's professional skills, employees at the City Council of Barcelona are encouraged to attend regular industry seminars and events. Barcelona’s Information Systems Institute allows management to measure and track personal performance and development goals.

London, UK (London & Partners)

A biannual appraisal process allows staff to be reviewed against a set of determined targets and training goals, while leads and project data are monitored via a company-wide customer relationship management system.

Eindhoven, Netherlands (Brainport Eindhoven)

Staff are reviewed and assessed against a set of targets, measured by leads, meetings and projects. A national tracking system allows regional bodies to co-operate on sharing leads.

Tel Aviv, Israel (Tel Aviv Global and Tourism)

The city’s Center for Economic & Social Research supports the performance measuring process, providing statistical data that is available to the public.

Regeneration scheme

Belfast, UK (Belfast City Council)

A regeneration and investment strategy was recently launched, which focuses on maximising investment opportunity and is supported by an £18.7m ($23.8m) investment fund for the city centre core.

Cardiff, UK (City of Cardiff Council)

A Central Cardiff Enterprise Zone is to be developed in the city centre. The 57-hectare site will be located beside a central station hub with transport links to London, and offers a range of financial and practical incentives.

Cork, Ireland (Cork City Council)

Cork’s Tramore Valley Park, which is located on a former landfill site, will be developed as a national recreation facility. Cork’s City Centre Movement Strategy is being developed to improve the circulation and efficiency of public transport.

London, UK (London & Partners)

London is undergoing several major developments, including the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which will house residential and office developments; Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea, which is London’s largest regeneration project; mixed-use Old Oak Common; King’s Cross, mixing retail, home and work space; and Royal Docks, a 25-hectare development with more than 3000 residential units and leisure and work space.

Lyon, France (Invest in Lyon)

Lyon will be home to Part-Dieu, set to be France’s second largest business district after La Défense in Paris. When completed, office space will total 140,000 square metres. The city’s Carré de Soie will become an urban hub for leisure, business and residential facilities. 

Sister city programme

Belfast, UK (Belfast City Council)

Belfast’s numerous sister city relationships include economic and trade development links with Dublin and Boston.

Chicago, US (World Business Chicago)

Chicago’s Sister City International organisation forms part of World Business Chicago, and fosters links with its 28 global sister cities. This improves investment attraction and cultural exchange.

Smart city

Bilbao, Spain (Bilbao City Council)

The city has a local hub that facilitates the openness to disruptive technologies, including smart-city applications, and is partnering with IBM on a 'Big Bilbao' big-data initiative. 

Galway, Ireland (Galway City Council)

The city council has recently signed up to a Smart City initiative, with the aim of creating a public Wi-Fi and Open Data source network.

Bristol and Bath, UK (Invest in Bristol & Bath)

Bristol City Council works closely with the University of Bristol to create a platform which draws on open data sources and allows companies to utilise big data for Internet of Things applications.

Tel Aviv, Israel (Tel Aviv Global and Tourism)

A beta site in part of the city is enabling start-ups to experiment with new smart city technologies.

Taipei, Taiwan (Taipei City Government)

The city’s government has engaged in a range of smart city initiatives, including sharing transportation systems, fibre-optic connectivity infrastructure, free city-wide wireless internet and municipal cloud services. 

Worker training

Belfast, UK (Belfast City Council)

Investors in Belfast can take advantage of training support, which offers investors help with training costs up to 40%.

Glasgow, UK (Invest Glasgow)

The Glasgow Guarantee offers wage subsidies of up to 50% to investors employing apprentices and graduates under 20 years of age.

Vranje, Serbia (City of Vranje)

The city puts a focus on the retraining and further education of its workforce.

Northern Ireland, UK (Invest NI)

Invest NI’s Assured Skills, a joint initiative with the province’s employment and learning department, gives investors a guarantee that they will have access to necessary skills and that future needs will be met. 

IPA staff development

Scotland, UK (Scottish Enterprise)

Employees have access to its sales academy, which offers continuous staff professional development in training courses, and further education opportunities.

Education cluster

Bilbao, Spain (Bilbao City Council)

Bilbao University City is a development of new education infrastructure to foster innovation and knowledge sharing in engineering, telecommunications and health.

Soft landing scheme

Derby, UK (Marketing Derby)

The agency’s 'red carpet scheme' connects investors with local experts in property, finance, recruitment and legal services, among others.

Izmir, Turkey (İzmir Development Agency)

Izmir Development Agency will pay rent and other utility expenses for new investors for one year, as part of its welcome package.

Düsseldorf, Germany (Office of Economic Development)

The city’s Office of Economic Development offers innovative and digital companies a welcome package, which includes a range of tailored services.

Cornerstone investor

Derby, UK (Marketing Derby)

Engineering giant Rolls-Royce has been headquartered in the city for more than 100 years, and has invested further with the construction of a £400m ($509m.) aerospace campus, which will also improve local transport infrastructure.

Overall incentives

Ghent, Belgium (City of Ghent)

Gwangju, South Korea (Invest in Gwangju)

Foshan, China (Foshan Investment Promotion Agency)

Andalusia, Spain (Invest in Andalusia)

Brabant, Netherlands (Brabant Development Agency)

Vojvodina, Serbia (Vojvodina Investment Promotion)

Parana, Brazil (Parana Development Agency (Invest in Parana))

Miami, US (the Beacon Council)

Knowledge sharing

Sydney, Australia (NSW Department of Premier & Cabinet)

The city government has recently established five knowledge hubs for financial services, transport logistics, energy innovation, medical technology and digital creative sectors. The initiative offers a platform where market players can share expertise and knowledge through research, events and advocacy.

Hidalgo, Mexico (Ministry of Economic Development)

Hidalgo is home to Pachuca, City of Knowledge, which connects government, private sector and universities to support development and innovation on agro-biotechnology, textiles, logistics and sustainability.


To promote Berlin as a location for innovation and growth in the world, we are using a varied media mix at Berlin Partner. Our online activities play a key role. We are therefore delighted that the fDi Magazine is honoring our online strategy with the Web Strategy Award

Stefan Franzke, CEO, Berlin Partner for Business and Technology

Innovative promotion campaign

Berlin, Germany (Berlin Partner)

The Pop into Berlin pop-up store appears in various cities around the world to present Berlin as a business location and attract investment.

Digital community engagement

Ghent, Belgium (City of Ghent)

The city is focused on the concept of a smart citizen, and on strengthening the local digital economy.

Editor’s choice – Start-up location of 2016

Hong Kong (Invest Hong Kong)

StartmeupHK was introduced in 2013 as a worldwide initiative to take advantage of growing opportunities in the city’s start-up scene. Today, the initiative has grown to include the StartmeupHK Festival, offering events for start-up promotion throughout the week.

Start-up support

Jelgava, Latvia (City Council of Jelgava)

London, UK (London & Partners)

Manchester, UK (Manchester Investment and Development Agency Service)

Munich, Germany (Department of Labour and Economic Development, City Hall)

Stockholm, Sweden (Stockholm Business Alliance)

Vienna, Austria (Vienna Business Agency)

Berlin, Germany (Berlin Partner)

Eindhoven, Netherlands (Brainport Eindhoven)

Ghent, Belgium (City of Ghent)

Tel Aviv, Israel (Tel Aviv Global and Tourism)

MNC start-up collaboration

Tel Aviv, Israel (Tel Aviv Global and Tourism)

The city’s global enterprise R&D collaboration framework encourages multinational companies to partner with start-ups to maximise the opportunities in their synergies and strengths.

Tech and research centres

Warsaw, Poland (City of Warsaw)

The city’s Centre for Preclinical Research and Technology is a biomedical and biotechnological research facility, offering collaboration in research and technology in an effort to research common diseases – one of several research centres in the city.

fDi strategy awards methodology

Strategic vision

Limerick, Ireland (Limerick City & County Council)

The city’s Limerick 2030 plan offers economic and spacial strategies for future development.

Brisbane, Australia (Brisbane Marketing)

The Brisbane 2022 New World City action plan was established in 2015, outlining priorities for growth until 2022. Seven economic priorities were highlighted, including the city’s Asia-Pacific headquarters strategy; the tourism infrastructure and hotel investment strategy; and the talent and skills strategy.

Taipei, Taiwan (Taipei City Government)

Taipei’s ambitious strategic roadmap, Taipei 2050, sets out the vision for the city’s urban and suburban reconstruction until 2050. Developments include the eco-city plan for the Tamusi river-shore area and metro expansion in northern Taiwan.

Tourism development

Brisbane, Australia (Brisbane Marketing)

Brisbane’s tourism infrastructure and hotel investment strategy aims to expand on the visitor economy by attracting FDI in such ventures as cruise ship terminals, tourist attraction and luxury hotels.

Strategy engagement

Lublin, Poland (City of Lublin Corporation)

A mayoral competition is run each year for the best university-level thesis about the economic development of the city.

Recruitment support

Nottingham, UK (Nottingham City Council)

The city council offers recruitment support via the Nottingham jobs hub, which works with investors to source staff at all levels, produce advertising vacancies and source training packages. Financial incentives are available for training unemployed workers.

Wroclaw, Poland (Wroclaw Agglomeration Development Agency)

The Wroclaw graduate programme encourages the transfer of knowledge between the business community and sciences community to support job creation.

Room to grow

Ostrava, Czech Republic (City of Ostrava)

Ostrava’s city authority has developed a database of development areas, which allows investors to search through a collection of available sites.

Brand strategy

Rotterdam, Netherlands (Rotterdam Partners)

Rotterdam Partners, the city council and Port of Rotterdam collaborate with the Erasmus University to use the 'Make it happen' motto to jointly attract and retain highly educated people and business.

SME support

Hong Kong (Invest Hong Kong)

Leipzig, Germany (City of Leipzig, Economic Development Office)

Scotland, UK (Scottish Enterprise)

Helsinki, Finland (Helsinki Business Hub)

Amsterdam, Netherlands (Amsterdam Inbusiness)

Job creation incentives

Seville, Spain (Invest in Andalusia)

Grants for job creation and training are available in Seville, with financial incentives commensurate with job creation.

Academia business links

Wroclaw, Poland (Wroclaw Agglomeration Development Agency)

Wroclaw Academic Hub offers a platform for government, academia and business to collaborate in the city, and is the first initiative of its kind in Poland.

Export support

Dhaka, Bangladesh (Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry)

The local government offers incentives for exporting industries, including an export guarantee scheme. Businesses that export 80% or more of their goods qualify for the duty-free import of machinery.

Red tape reduction

Foshan, China (Foshan Investment Promotion Agency)

The city aims to streamline admin and registration processes for investors, utilising innovative approval systems and e-platforms for administration, resulting in Foshan becoming a pilot city for the wider Guangdong area.

Tax climate

Canary Islands, Spain (ProExca - Sociedad Canaria de Fomento Económico)

Dubai, UAE (Dubai Department of Economic Development)

R&D support

Catalonia, Spain (Acció)

Madrid, Spain (Invest in Madrid)

Eindhoven, Netherlands (Brainport Eindhoven)

Northern Ireland, UK (Invest NI)

Wallonia, Belgium (Invest Wallonia)

Government stakeholder training

Vojvodina, Serbia (Vojvodina Investment Promotion)

Government employees involved in attracting investment are given specific training, including from foreign investment agencies, industry seminars and monthly education programmes.

Crossborder collaboration

Pernambuco, Brazil (AD Diper)

The city’s Metalmechanic project aims to strengthen business relations between SMEs in Pernambuco and Lombardy, Italy.

Edinburgh, UK (the City of Edinburgh Council)

The city has a strategic link with Shenzhen to encourage investment between the two cities, including bilateral trade delegations and incubator space in both cities for reciprocal visits.

Chicago, US (World Business Chicago)

World Business Chicago has spearheaded outreach visits to global cities including London and Toronto, while maintaining an official economic alliance with Mexico City.

Innovation promotion

Antioquia, Colombia (Cooperation and Investment Agency of Medellín and the Metropolitan Area)

The Medellinnovation innovation district was established in the city in 2012 to bring together knowledge-intensive businesses. Investments from 45 companies have been made so far, totalling $45m.

Brabant, Netherlands (Brabant Development Agency)

Investors in Brabant can take advantage of an innovation credit, a risk-bearing loan to develop a technically new product or service.

Establishing investor confidence

Durango, Mexico (Ministry of Economic Development)

The Mexican state recently passed a law stating that the granting of incentives will stand regardless of the government administration period, providing stability to investor decisions.

Big team award

Hungary (Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency)

The Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency has a headcount of 124, most of whom have the core responsibility of investment promotion at the agency’s headquarters.

M&A facilitation

Lyon, France (Invest in Lyon)

Invest in Lyon has developed expertise in M&A activity, supported by more than 21,000 OnlyLyon ambassadors based in Lyon and in international hubs, which provide information on potential leads.

Lombardy, Italy (Invest in Lombardy)

The agency’s M&A project provides and promotes a portfolio of M&A profiles, of both capital-seeking and investing companies.

Home-grown talent promotion award

Malaga, Spain (Invest in Andalusia)

The regional government is aiming to attract local talent back to its shores, including incentives for hiring skilled Andalusian workers from abroad.

Multimodal infrastructure award

Duisburg, Germany (Business Promotion Agency Duisburg)

The city has a range of water, rail, road and air transportation and connectivity options. Several freight lines from Duisburg to China are regarded as the new Silk Road, and open up Asian markets to an increased number of investors.

Diversification strategy

Barcelona, Spain (City Council of Barcelona)

The city has experienced a transition to knowledge intensive activities, while still retaining a large industry base.

Aftercare strategy

Brno, Czech Republic (Brno City Municipality)

Brno City Municipality employs staff on a permanent basis to arrange the aftercare needs of investors to ensure its continued engagement with such companies.

Incentives for high-value industries

Miami, US (the Beacon Council)

The Miami-Dade Country Targeted Jobs Incentive Fund offers tax refunds for companies in increments dependent upon their capital investment. The Florida-qualified target industry tax refund is available for companies creating high-value jobs in targeted, high-value industries.

Port development

Cork, Ireland (Cork City Council)

Planning permission has been granted for a €100m upgrade to the Port of Cork, which will allow for increased port traffic and facilitate larger ships to dock.

Ghent, Belgium (City of Ghent)

The city commits to annual investments of approximately €20m for the development of the city port, while permission has been granted for a new €1bn sea dock.

Miami, US (the Beacon Council)

PortMiami has been the beneficiary of multiple investments in recent years, including the port tunnel, and the expansion of the port to receive neo-Panamax ships.

Renewable energy potential

Vojvodina, Serbia (Vojvodina Investment Promotion)

Several renewable energy production opportunities exist in Vojvodina, including 15 million hectares of arable land for biomass energy; several wind power location sites; 78 geothermal boreholes; and solar energy potential with 20% to 30% higher insolation intensity than the European average.

Specialism awards


Tokyo, Japan (Tokyo Metropolitan Government)

Data centres

Kainuu, Finland (Invest In Kainuu)


Barranquilla, Colombia (ProBarranquilla)

Cottage industries

Karachi, Pakistan (Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry)

Electro mobility

Leipzig, Germany (City of Leipzig, Economic Development Office)

Tech and knowledge

Brabant, Netherlands (Brabant Development Agency)

Life sciences

Stockholm, Sweden (Stockholm Business Alliance)

Glasgow, UK (Invest Glasgow)

Chicago, US (World Business Chicago)


Coventry and Warwickshire, UK (Coventry & Warwickshire LEP)

Montreal, Canada (Montréal International)


Derby, UK (Marketing Derby)


Grenoble, France (AEPI)

Tel Aviv, Israel (Tel Aviv Global and Tourism)


Miami, US (The Beacon Council)

Web strategy

Winner: Berlin, Germany (Berlin Partner)                                  

Highly commended: Edinburgh, UK (the City of Edinburgh Council), Barcelona, Spain (City Council of Barcelona), Kainuu, Finland (Invest In Kainuu), Manchester, UK (Manchester Investment and Development Agency Service)

Honourable mention: Foshan, China (Foshan Investment Promotion Agency), Jastrebarsko, Croatia (City of Jastrebarsko)

Social media marketing award 

Cardiff, UK (City of Cardiff Council)

Marketing slogan

Winner: Amsterdam, Netherlands (Amsterdam Inbusiness) - “Open mind, sharp business”

Highly commended: Edinburgh, UK (The City of Edinburgh Council) - “Inspiring capital”

Honourable mention: Antioquia, Colombia (Cooperation and Investment Agency of Medellín and the Metropolitan Area): “Medellinnovation, the connection that moves us”

Tuscany, Italy (Invest in Tuscany): - “Tuscany, for centuries in the future”

Ghent, Belgium (City of Ghent) - “The best idea is to go where the best ideas are”

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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