OCO Global Innovation Index identifies shifts in IPA approaches to FDI attraction

Leading specialist trade and investment advisory firm, OCO Global, has launched the inaugural annual OCO Global Innovation Index, at the online OCO Global Innovation Index Awards.

The Index has been developed as a result of the global pandemic, to capture best practice and quantify its impact in terms of Investment Promotion Agency (IPA) approaches to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) attraction across developed and emerging economies. Registrations were received from almost 30 countries worldwide and the Awards were streamed live across these countries on Tuesday.

The team at OCO Global conducted a quantitative survey, as well as a series of in-depth qualitative interviews with 20 IPA’s from 30 countries around the world. The responses were broken down into ten categories across three areas: Strategy (new/updated plan, proactive M&A, engagement VC/JV, account management focus); Operations (new sectors, new markets, new services); and Technology (CRM/tools upgrade, virtual events/conferences, virtual tours). Each IPA was then scored on whether the IPA had made a change and the level of change/how innovative that change was in these areas in response to the pandemic.

Invest India was named the overall Winner, having excelled across all three categories.  The UK’s Department for International Trade took first place for Strategy, Invest India coming in a close second and the Australian Trade & Investment Commission (Austrade) putting in a strong performance to claim third place. The Operations category was headed by Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), with Invest India again coming in second, and Germany Trade & Invest taking third place. Meanwhile, Invest Lithuania was recognised as most innovative in terms of Technology, with second place being tied between three organisations: Invest Hong Kong; Invest Denmark; andBahrain Economic Board.

“With the arrival of the global coronavirus pandemic, IPA’s have had to adopt new ways of working, communicating and transacting with clients”  commented Mark O’Connell, Founder and CEO, OCO Global, “The level of ambition and importance of FDI to national economies has increased for many, and our findings have identified a number of shifts in approach to FDI attraction from IPA’s.

“The fact that the top two innovation awards go to IPA’s from emerging economies (India and Abu Dhabi) demonstrates this focus, and fires a shot across the bows of the more established and complacent status quo. These organisations were already well anticipated in respect of digital tools and sustainable sectors of the future, and recognise that success is about liveability as well as economics” he added.

The findings revealed that younger IPA’s in emerging markets like Dubai, Trinidad and Costa Rica also had some of the more resilient strategies than the more mature economies, which required little update as a result of the pandemic.

Operationally, IPA’s have pivoted to resilient sectors such as fin tech, health tech, renewables, and food & drink, while tourism, retail and manufacturing has been consolidated. Within these sectors, new targets include cybersecurity, AI, blockchain, fintech, disposable medical products, cleantech, agritech and E-commerce. Meanwhile, sustainability/green growth is a new and recurrent theme within IPA’s.

There has been no discernible shift in global footprints as a result of the pandemic, and faith in historical source markets remains, with China, India and the Gulf rising in priority. At the same time, the exodus from the cities and the success of remote and home working has opened up possibilities for regional dispersion and deeper regional engagement, which has been reflected in a number of IPA strategy updates. This is also supported by increased digitisation, which previously may only have extended as far as the website and social media for many IPA’s, and which is now pervasive across the value chain of operations for many. Adoption rates of technology platforms including virtual tours, use of drones and Zoom, has been forced and accelerated as a result of remote working and travel restrictions. This new way of working allows investors to visit geographically disperse sites in a morning, as opposed to three-day familiarisation (fam) tour, and therefore provides the opportunity to showcase regions more inclusively.

To find out more about the OCO Global Innovation Index, please visit: https://www.ocoglobal.com/oco-innovation-index-awards/