fDi strategy awards 2017 logo

Invest Hong Kong has been named the best investment promotion agency of the year in fDi’s 2017 Strategy Awards, with organisations from Chicago and Colorado Springs to Karachi and Krosno also winning accolades for their economic development efforts. Cathy Mullan reports.

IPA of the Year

Winner – Invest Hong Kong

Invest Hong Kong – also known as InvestHK – has been named Investment Promotion Agency of the Year for 2017, following a strong performance of attracting FDI in 2016. According to greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets, estimated job creation from inward foreign investment in the special administrative region stood at more than 10,000 jobs in 2016, the highest level of job creation since 2013.  


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The number of inbound greenfield FDI projects increased from 149 in 2015 to 166 in 2016, and it hit its highest inbound capital expenditure level since 2013, with nearly $5.3bn. Investments were made by some major companies including US-based entertainment and leisure company Walt Disney and management consultancy Accenture.

InvestHK approaches investment promotion with a highly targeted focus, emphasising key sectors such as financial services and innovation and technology, but with a vast global reach. Its 70 investment promotion staff at the Hong Kong head office, deployed in nine sector specialist (or other dedicated service) teams, are supported by a network of 30 offices around the world, including about 50 investment promotion staff in investment promotion units (IPUs) in economic trade and consular offices worldwide, and 45 consultants in 15 overseas representative offices in strategic locations not covered by the existing IPUs.

In the next five years, InvestHK will also strengthen its promotional activities overseas and in mainland China, focusing on the development of Hong Kong into a regional maritime services hub, and a platform connecting the mainland with the maritime industry in other parts of the world.

Highly commended – World Business Chicago (US)                  

World Business Chicago (WBC), a not-for-profit public-private partnership, has expanded aggressively since 2012, doubling staff numbers at the agency and tripling funding in the same period. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel works closely with the agency, receiving regular updates on project wins and on efforts to secure more foreign investment. He was involved in expanding the board of members – which includes C-level members of more than 80 companies – and is instrumental in implementing the organisation’s FDI strategic plan, which sets out objectives by country and target sector.

Throughout the city there is a strong co-operation among agencies, including WBC and the Departments of Planning & Development and Business Affairs & Consumer Protection, among others. The city is strong on international outreach and crossborder collaboration, proactively leveraging its global sister city relationships for investment and trade promotion.

Individual categories


Commended for aftercare services

Hamilton Economic Development (Canada)

The Hamilton Economic Development agency implemented a thorough aftercare programme, Hamilton Calling, dedicated to ensuring that companies investing in the city are well settled and supported. About 100 companies are visited annually, and assistance is provided in a range of areas, including training programmes, exporting, marketing and expansion or relocation within the community. A customer relationship management system is used to track and monitor visits and company information, and allows the agency to stay in contact and up to date with investors. A formal report on the year’s activities is published annually.

Education, skills and training

Commended for vocational training

Municipal Office of Krosno (Poland)

The Regional Centre for Vocational Education and Modern Technologies in the city of Krosno, south-eastern Poland, offers training solutions using the newest technological advances for investors’ potential employees. Private training and education can be given, so the city can respond quickly to the shifting demands of the labour market and offer an attractive talent pool to companies that can be adapted and moulded to their needs. Disciplines include mechanics, mechatronics and aviation. Employees’ continuous professional development is encouraged and more than 110 people take part in such programmes each year.

Commended for education and business collaboration

The Beacon Council (US)

The Beacon Council in Miami works to bridge the gap between the needs of investors and the institutions training the local workforce. Degrees and education programmes have been added to the curriculum of local education institutions to focus on specific sectors, as required. Degree courses have been established in such areas as international supply chain management, animation and gaming and cyber security. Meetings are set up between colleges and local business leaders from target industries, to ensure skill gaps are being filled adequately.

Commended for adult education and re-skilling

Greater Spokane Incorporated (US)

Greater Minds is an adult education programme that was introduced by Greater Spokane International, the economic development organisation for the metropolitan region in Washington state, with the aim of helping adults get back to college and finish a degree programme. Higher education institutions, in collaboration with the business community, aim to increase the proportion of Greater Spokane residents with a high-quality and in-demand degree qualification to 60% by 2025, from its current rate of 40%.

Commended for knowledge transfer

Szczecin City Hall (Poland)

Szczecin City Hall helps the transfer of knowledge between industry and academia, encouraging and coordinating co-operation between business and science. Service Inter-Lab is a centre for the transfer of knowledge for the service sector and is located at the city’s university. The Business Innovation Support Centre provides services to entrepreneurs, students and scientists alike. Co-operation with the city’s West Pomeranian ICT cluster offers companies conditions that foster growth, helping investors (including startups) to access knowledge and contacts. A programme with West Pomeranian University of Technology provides advisory and training services for knowledge transfer, financing for R&D, and support for academic entrepreneurship.

Commended for performance management

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (New Zealand)

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development takes the lead in promoting the city to international investors. The agency applies a disciplined approach to training its staff to ensure optimum performance, and works with individual managers on performance and development plans, outlining goals and objectives in line with wider goals for the agency. Performance is monitored and reviewed on a quarterly basis, when resources are allocated to ensure the objectives for the period are met efficiently. Team performance is measured against an economic impact analysis framework, offering insight into the efficacy of economic development on economic growth.


We are delighted our strategy to attract investment is again one of the best across the region

Nick Hill, chief executive, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development

Expansions, retentions and project wins

Commended for project retention

City of Brampton (Canada) – GAP

SPNegócios S/A (Brazil) – L’Oréal

Commended for project wins

Brisbane Marketing (Australia) – Asahi Beverages

World Business Chicago (US) – Wanda

Kingston Economic Development Corporation (Canada) – Feihe International

The Beacon Council (US) – EMD Serono (a division of Merck)

Montréal International (Canada) – ON Entertainment

North Country Chamber of Commerce (US) – Norsk Titanium

Commended for expansion and reinvestment

City of Joinville (Brazil) – General Motors

The London Economic Development Corporation (Canada) – Hanwha L&C Canada

Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce (US) – LenzingFibers

Invest Trinidad and Tobago – iQor

Human capital

Commended for recruitment assistance

City Hall of Katowice (Poland)

Katowice’s city hall is instrumental in connecting investors with qualified staff for their operations. The city organises job fairs for investors, in collaboration with local academic careers centres, which also manage databases of candidates. A special website was created to allow investors to post job advertisements, and the local district labour office offers a range of initiatives, including internships, personalised training courses and reimbursement for expenses incurred equipping workstations.


We are constantly working on our investors support programme, which is one of the most important factors of the city’s investment attractiveness

Marcin Krupa, mayor, Katowice

Commended for ongoing professional development

Frisco Economic Development Corporation (US)

Frisco Economic Development Corporation, in partnership with Frisco Chamber of Commerce, runs the Frisco Young Professionals network, connecting local young professionals with professional development events, such as networking and information events. The Frisco Young Entrepreneurs Academy aims to instil an entrepreneurial spirit among young people in school grades six to 12.

Commended for talent attraction

Municipality of Kraków (Poland)

In collaboration with local companies, the Municipality of Kraków runs the inKRK! initiative, which over the course of four projects works to encourage young people to choose the city as their base to work and live, and promote the city as a good place to develop a career. The second initiative, inKRK! Keep on Developing, aims to promote the companies in the city as places where young people can further develop their careers. Companies are supported in finding suitable candidates for internships.

Innovation initiatives

Commended for supporting new technology

Bydgoszcz Regional Development Agency (Poland)

The regional development agency for Bydgoszcz, in Poland’s Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, created the role of innovation development specialist to support the implementation of new technologies for new investors. Investors can also take advantage of Bydgoszcz Industrial and Technology Park and workshops for software developers. The agency also conducted the ‘Bydgoszcz Open to IT’ campaign, which included promotional activities promoting IT industry in the city.

Commended for smart city initiatives

World Business Chicago (US)

In collaboration with the University of Chicago, an array of smart city initiatives has been implemented and can be promoted to investors by World Business Chicago. Modular sensors in the city can collect environmental, infrastructure and traffic data. The agency describes it as a “fitness tracker” for a city’s liveability factors.

Commended for cleantech initiative

Kingston Economic Development Corporation (Canada)

Kingston Economic Development Corporation is making it a priority to attract cleantech investors to the southern Ontario city. The agency supports the Carbon XPrize project and acts as an international ambassador for the city, with the aim of attracting up to 20 start-ups in the field. Kingston Economic Development Corporation aims to attract companies active in cleantech and carbon transformation.

Commended for encouraging innovation

ACI Medellín (Colombia)

The technological district Medellínnovation aims to attract knowledge-intensive businesses in ICT, health and energy sectors to Medellín, Colombia’s second largest city. Investors in the district can take advantage of tax exemptions and the ‘plug and play’ project, offered in the district’s innovation and business centre. A business network for hi-tech manufacturing companies affords investors the opportunity to forge relationships further down its supply chain, with contacts in the automotive, electric appliances and motorcycle sectors.

International outreach

Commended for international outreach

World Business Chicago (US)

World Business Chicago has established a wide range of initiatives to ensure a huge international network. In December 2013, the agency established its China initiative, with the mayor signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that made the city the official US gateway for a host of Chinese cities (including Beijing and Shanghai). This was followed with a trade delegation to China in 2015, and since the original MOU in 2013 more than $1bn of trade has been agreed. In a similar vein, a London initiative was signed in 2016, when the agency worked with the mayor’s office to host a delegation from its London counterpart. A range of other international initiatives include its Sister Cities initiative, which includes special agreements and MOUs with 28 global cities, and an economic partnership agreement with Mexico City.


Commended for sector incentives

Brisbane Marketing (Australia)

Brisbane can offer investors strategic incentives for companies in its target sectors. As a result of hotel investment incentives, hotel rooms in the city have increased by more than 2300 since 2012. This figure is expected to rise to 4215 by 2018. The expected impact on the economy is significant, with an extra 2200 direct jobs expected and an additional A$4bn ($3bn) being pumped into the local economy.

Commended for training incentives

CIT Sinaloa (Mexico)                                

Training grants are offered to investors in Guasave, western Mexico, where salaries of new employees are subsidised with government funds. CIT Sinaloa is responsible for the promotion of Guasaveto international investors, and each company investing in the city is assigned an account executive to support the investor and advise on incentives available.

Commended for company growth support

Invest Hong Kong

A dedicated fund worth $1bn for branding, upgrading and domestic sales was launched in 2012. The fund provides support for enterprises and non-profit organisations to allow them to develop brands, upgrade and restructure operations, and promote sales in mainland China.

Marketing slogan

Commerce Lexington Inc (US)

'Here’s our proof'

Lexington, Kentucky, is famed for its bourbon, and the marketing slogan 'Here’s our proof' is a play on words, with a nod to its signature drink as well as encouraging potential investors to examine the business successes in the city.

R&D, science and tech support

Commended for R&D, science and tech support

Ignite Fredericton (Canada)

Fredericton’s Knowledge Park is the only technology and research park for knowledge-based companies in New Brunswick. The district is home to 37 companies with future plans for additional buildings and plans to grow the knowledge-based industries in the city. Planet Hatch, New Brunswick’s flagship business accelerator, offers a range of services for start-up companies to encourage entrepreneurship and growth. Ignite Fredericton, Planet Hatch and the Knowledge Park collaborate to work as one organisation and benefit investors.

Invest Hong Kong

The Innovation and Technology Fund was established in 1999, and supports innovation and technology investors in Hong Kong, benefiting nearly 6000 projects to date. In 2015, the government established an extra fund, the Enterprise Support Scheme, which provides finance for the R&D activities of private sector companies. 

Montréal International (Canada)

Tax benefits are available to investors operational in R&D activities. The scientific research and experimental development allowance offers 15% tax credits allocated by the government of Canada and 14% refundable by the government of Québec. The ‘Strategic Aerospace and Defence’ initiative covers up to 30% of the cost of strategic R&D projects through refundable contributions.

Invest Ottawa (Canada)

The Ontario Innovation Tax Credit (which offers 8% tax credit to qualifying companies in addition to federal tax benefits) and the municipal CIT programme, which help investors to reduce time and costs of development projects, are just two incentives on offer to support research investors in Ottawa. Invest Ottawa also offers companies one-on-one advice on the incentives that would most benefit their investments.

Szczecin City Hall (Poland)

The Regional Centre for Innovation and Technology Transfer in Szczecin helps companies with advisory and training services. Training is offered in knowledge transfer, R&D financing, supporting academic entrepreneurship and coordinating cooperation between science and local business.

Wrocław Agglomeration Development Agency (Poland)

The city’s research centre, Wrocław Research Centre EIT, and Wrocław Technology Park offer state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment and an international team of specialists to operate the lab and offer support. Wrocław’s academic hub offers a platform for government, local academia and the city’s business society to come together to encourage knowledge transfer and growth in R&D activities.

Start-up and SME support

Commended for start-up and SME support

Invest Hong Kong

Invest Hong Kong began a global initiative in 2013, seeing an opportunity in the growing start-up scene. StartmeupHK was launched to promote the city as a leading destination for start-up companies to use Hong Kong as a launchpad from which they could grow their business. The StartmeupHK portal was enhanced in 2015 to include more interactive elements and resources to allow companies to share their stories. Road shows and international promotional events have raised awareness, while each year InvestHK hosts the StartmeupHK festival, showcasing the benefits Hong Kong can offer new companies.

Specialism awards

Fintech: Invest Hong Kong

A dedicated financial technology (fintech) team was set up in Invest Hong Kong in September 2016, to promote Hong Kong as a premier destination for fintech start-up companies. The fintech team provides investors in the sector with a one-stop-shop experience, and encourages fintech R&D companies to establish operations and grow in the city. About 40 fintech start-ups have been assisted since launch, and the team has had engagements with companies and communities in the sector in Europe, the US, Australia and South America.

Maritime: City Hall of Gdynia (Poland)

The maritime sector is important to Gdynia, a city on Poland’s northern coast. The city boasts a modern port that is specialised in handling cargo and has a range of multimodal facilities to benefit investors. Regular shipping lines and a ferry terminal also operate out of the port. There is a focus on further improving infrastructure to support investors in the shipping industry and in logistics, as part of the city’s ‘Logistics Valley’ initiative.

Life Sciences: New York City Economic Development Corporation (US)

A public-private partnership between the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYEDC), CelgeneCorporation, GE Ventures and Eli Lilly has pledged at least $150m in the life sciences funding initiative to launch between 15 and 20 projects in the sector by 2020. The aim is to support new technologies and products for researchers in a range of areas, including medical devices, diagnostics and digital life sciences technologies. The sector will receive further support by the way of a $500m plan to establish lab space, nurture the workforce and forge partnerships.

Fashion: New York City Economic Development Corporation (US)

Building on its reputation as a global fashion capital, budding designers and investors can take advantage of a range of benefits of locating in New York. The Design Entrepreneurs NYC initiative gives investors access to a mini-MBA programme, preparing them with the necessary skills for running a fashion label. The CFDA fashion incubator is located in the Garment District, and offers low-cost studio space to potential investors, along with educational seminars and networking opportunities.

Hotels and tourism: Brisbane Marketing (Australia)

Brisbane’s tourism infrastructure strategy has been introduced to focus on attracting investment that improves the city’s tourism and visitor economy. Several developments are in Brisbane Marketing’s sights, including cruise ship terminals, and major tourist attractions will drive tourist demand and, it hopes, investment.

CybersecurityColorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and EDC (US)

A national cybersecurity centre has been developed at the University of Colorado’s campus in Colorado Springs, and has been described as the “lead organisation in facilitating the region’s cybersecurity development strategy”.

Aerospace: Greater Spokane Incorporated (US)

More than 120 aerospace companies are based in the Spokane region in Washington state, with more than 12,000 people employed in the sector. The region is home to the fifth largest aerospace cluster in the US, and Greater Spokane Incorporated is dedicated to improving its capacity to serve as a supply chain for the sector. A partnership between local government, higher education and private industry, the Aerospace Initiative for Recruitment, works to boost recruitment.

Editor’s choice award

Commended for advocacy

Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Pakistan)

The editor-in-chief was impressed with the energy displayed by Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), which showed a dedicated and proactive approach to investment attraction. KCCI has a special committee for international affairs to implement memoranda of understanding and for FDI advocacy. The agency has been instrumental in changing policy decisions to encourage a more business-friendly environment for investors, in areas such as taxation, energy availability and infrastructure. KCCI also holds meetings with ambassadors, consul generals and trade specialists to assess FDI opportunities and turn opportunities into real investments.

Web strategy awards

Best website

Greater Spokane Incorporated (US)

A comprehensive website, www.greaterspokane.com, offers investors a full picture of living and establishing operations in Spokane, Washington. Sections of the website offer information on policies including economic development, education and workforce and regulatory affairs. The website also includes a relocation guide for companies moving to the city, with a detailed online magazine giving information on local transportation facilities, education and health information.

Even more usefully, the dedicated economic development site, www.advantagespokane.com, has a wealth of data, stats and geomapping tools for site selectors, all enabled by geographic information system technology.

Branding campaign

Orlando Economic Development Commission (US)

'You don’t know the half of it' campaign

A multimedia campaign from the Floridian city of Orlando capitalises on its strong reputation as a vacation destination while implying there is more to learn. Creative elements use a play on words such as 'Fantasy, meet reality', 'Our home is more than our castle', 'Not just characters, but character', and 'Welcome to tomorrow land'. The imagery reinforces the messages with photography of industry innovations, cutting-edge technology and the city's high quality of life.

Social media strategy

Kingston Economic Development Corporation (Canada)

Kingston Economic Development Corporation focuses on actively engaging with its audience through a variety of tools. The agency demonstrates an integrated approach across its different media accounts: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat. In 2016, about 30,000 views were recorded across all platforms, which were cross-promoted with a variety of local organisations including Queen’s University, Ontario East and Tourism Kingston. A hashtag campaign was launched throughout 2016, when #TeamYGK was used when promoting any business success in the city.

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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