By Claire West
In a study of the most promising investment locations in Europe, fDi Magazine - a Financial Times publication - has crowned London and Nordrhein-Westfalen in Germany as respective winners of the European City and Region of the Future 2014/15 titles.
London demonstrated a clear strategy for attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) and ranked first place in the Economic Potential category for major European cities. The city also ranked second in the Infrastructure category, in part due to its forthcoming Crossrail project - the largest civil engineering project in Europe.
Among large European Regions Nordrhein-Westfalen ranked first, rising six places from the previous ranking in 2012/13. The region also ranked third in Economic Potential and second in Human Capital.
Helsinki emerged as a new top entry in the Top 25 European cities category, ranking second. Finland's capital has been receiving increased attention for its efforts to attract FDI and scored particularly well for FDI Strategy.
The Dutch city of Eindhoven was also a new entry to the Top 25, ranking third. The city ranked first in the FDI Strategy category for small European cities and fourth in the Infrastructure category.
"It is a challenging time for FDI in Europe. With sluggish growth in many of the major economies and continuing ill effects from the euro zone crises of last year, inflows into the region have declined. That makes it crucial for Europe's cities and regions to take a proactive stance towards FDI promotion and to ensure their investment environments are as competitive as possible. Our rankings recognise the locations that are doing just that, and highlight the respective strengths of cities and regions of all sizes across Europe," said Courtney Fingar, editor-in-chief of fDi Magazine.
- London demonstrated significant FDI attraction - particularly in the software and IT, business services, and financial services sectors.
- Nordrhein-Westfalen's high GDP and inflation rate of 2.5% helped to rank the region third in the Economic Potential category.
- Helsinki highlighted its focus on three key areas to promote investment: "Research, development and innovation; growth capital and hi-tech start-ups; and transnational functions, such as sea and air links."
- Eindhoven ranked first in the FDI Strategy category for small European cities, thanks in part to its offer of incubation facilities, as well as its provision of 'soft-landing' services, which allow investors to establish links and develop a base in the city.
- Among large European cities, Dutch locations were well-represented in the Infrastructure category, with Amsterdam ranking first and Rotterdam third. Both cities' positions in this category were boosted by their country's developed communications and transport networks.
- At regional level the Cost Effectiveness category was predominantly made up of eastern European locations. Macedonia's Ohrid-Struga ranked first and Bulgaria's Stara Zagora came second, while Serbian regions claimed three of the overall Top 10 European places.
- On the whole, UK cities and regions performed well in fDi Magazine's European Cities and Regions of the Future 2014/15, claiming top city and second place regionally.