Greater Brighton Inward
Date of Meeting:
Chair, Officer Programme Board
FOR GENERAL RELEASE
1. PURPOSE OF REPORT AND POLICY CONTEXT:
In July 2019, the Greater Brighton Economic Board “The Board” approved
two projects aligned to its Five-Year Priorities and the ‘International’ theme.
The first was the establishment of an inward investment resource as recommended
by the Board’s Inward Investment Strategy and the second was the development of
a Greater Brighton ‘Pitch for Place’, a place making narrative.
In November 2019, the Board commissioned Breeze Strategy to deliver both
projects and a paper was presented to the Board in July 2020. Since then the
team has been working on a number of elements to take the plans forward as
directed, but there is still no dedicated permanent resource for the Desk.
The global pandemic, subsequent economic dislocation and the exit from
the European Union presents significant threats and opportunities for Greater
Brighton in terms of inward investment.
That the Board agrees to the establishment and resourcing of an inward
investment desk consisting as a minimum of two business managers and one
researcher supported by additional communications and intelligence resources.
That the Board agrees first hire should be focussed on identifying new
opportunities from London-based companies rethinking their footprints
post-COVID. The research support would help to identify potential foreign
targets that should be engaged.
That the Board seeks to work with Coast to Capital LEP on the
development of a bid to DiT’s High Potential Opportunities programme, with
partners agreeing on a collaborative approach to identify what the niche sector
is that HPO should focus on and the support required to promote it.
That the Board agrees that initial cost of resourcing the desk should be
underwritten by local authorities, with funding sought from other sources
including Government incentives and private sector contributions.
In the last six months, the Inward Investment Desk has been managed by
GBEB’s Andy Hill and Clare Mulholland, supported by external consultant Adam
Breeze (2 days a month). During this time, the progress on building the
necessary basics of a service has included:
Creation of a basic CRM system to track opportunities
Identification of likely FDI prospects (currently at around 10
Engagement with FDI prospects
Liaison with Department for International Trade (DIT)
Created Invest section of website
Developed basic collateral to support enquiries
Spoken with FDI journalists
Previous studies prior to 2020 demonstrated the extent to which Greater
Brighton was not punching its weight in attracting inward investment. With the
rollout of vaccines and the implementation of the UK-EU trade deal, 2021
promises to be a pivotal year of rebuilding. Given its unique characteristics
articulated in the Greater Brighton narrative, the area is perfectly positioned
to take a lead role in responding to changing location needs of inward
investors and attracting investments which align with the objectives of
sustainable development and inclusive growth.
To take advantage of these opportunities GBEB partners now need to pool
resources and create an agile and proactive inward investment service.
Key opportunities for Greater Brighton include;
Existing investors face changing supply-chains and threats to
jobs and growth
London-based companies are rethinking corporate location
International firms are continuing to expand into the UK
New landscape offers fertile ground for new messaging
Each of these trends open new opportunities for Greater Brighton in
2021, but each requires focus and resource. At present, there is little or no
coordination or resource to support these opportunities.
The competitive environment is likely to be even more intense with
locations seeking to attract new jobs and investment to spur economic recovery
with a host of active inward investment teams in Kent, Thames Valley and London
all proactively chasing opportunities in the South East. Additionally, the
extra resources from national government as part of the ‘levelling up’ agenda
will increase competition from teams in the Midlands and North; Birmingham is
receiving substantial amounts from the Department of International Trade (DiT)
to attract inward investment on the back of the Commonwealth Games 2022; and
Scotland has recently announced new resources for inward investment and a revamped
strategy for 2021.
Priorities for 2021
Immediate priorities for 2021 should be;
Supporting the retention of existing inward investors
Identifying opportunities to attract potential London relocations
Engaging with global inward investors planning expansion to the
Promotion of the post-COVID, post-Brexit Greater Brighton
Greater Brighton is under-performing for inward investment. Given the
strength of its business advantages, high-quality connectivity, talent and
lifestyle, Greater Brighton should have been attracting a far larger share of
the more than 1,000 annual foreign investment projects. In the last figures
pre-COVID-19, the UK recorded increased foreign investment in 2019 and the
South East was the second-best region outside of London. Yet Greater Brighton
was not represented in the top 20 UK destinations and the latest DiT figures
show only a small handful of project successes.
In the post-Brexit, post-COVID world, Greater Brighton’s economic
recovery needs inward investors. The retention of existing businesses and the
attraction of new companies, jobs, investment and talent pose significant
challenges. Every competitor location will be keener than ever to win new
projects and Greater Brighton simply cannot continue to be a bystander in this
Resourcing inward investment activity
Greater Brighton Inward Investment Desk (GBIID) needs to be created and
resourced if the area is to compete successfully. There is an opportunity to
create an agile, smart and lean investment team that reflects the changing
realities around the ‘new normal’ both in terms of what businesses are looking
for and how they can be engaged. Building a different type of inward investment
service can be a real competitive advantage for Greater Brighton.
funding required for this would be in the region of £250,000 per annum, (which
is a fraction of what other comparable areas invest in their inward investment
service Locate in Kent for example receives four times this amount, which last
year generated 46 successes and creation or retention of 3,233 jobs, with 678
as a result of investment from overseas.). A phased ramp up of the service
could be achieved with one manager and the researcher in the first year with a
second one being added in 2022/23. This phased approach could be achieved with
a minimum commitment of £120,000 for 2021/22.
initial cost should be underwritten by local authorities, with funding sought
from other sources. This would include seeking funding from any relevant
Government initiatives, including Coast to Capital LEP, private sector
contributions and potential DIT funding around account management of existing
in-kind support and assistance from DiT and other partners such as the High
Potential Opportunities programme and potential secondments could also be added
to the cocktail of funding. These additional streams of funding can only be
realised once the desk is up and running and beginning to prove its worth.
working is key to the successful operation of the desk, with local economic
development teams, the LEP, DiT, academic and business partnerships across
Greater Brighton. This should always recognise gaps in existing provision
rather than duplicate the work of others.
GBIID should report to the Board on a regular basis (to be agreed) and inward
investment should be a standing item on the Officer Programme Board. A
transparent approach to tracking and reporting the numbers of prospects, leads
and activities is key to demonstrating and measuring the added value of the
Potential Opportunities (HPO) Programme
High Potential Opportunities programme launched in 2018 by the DiT is an
initiative to help promote niche strengths at a local level and match them with
potential inward investment opportunities in overseas markets. Local Enterprise
Partnerships (LEPs), can bid on behalf of a local cluster and a number are
selected (there have been three rounds to date resulting in around 30-40 chosen
opportunities ranging from plant-based foods to data diagnostics in health).
Successful bids receive in-kind support from DiT to develop a niche proposition
and create collateral that is then promoted through the DiT website and shared
with DiT overseas posts in target markets. There is likely to be a further
round in 2021 and Greater Brighton’s inward investment activities and profile
among key national partners would be greatly enhanced by a successful bid.
discussions have taken place around potential niche areas of strength and
opportunity (Tech for Good, Haptic Technology, AviationTech). These discussions
should be progressed to ensure Greater Brighton is ahead of the game for the
ANALYSIS & CONSIDERATION OF ANY ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS
rationale for a Greater Brighton inward investment desk has been highlighted by
a number of reports and strategies in recent years. This report suggests a work
programme that seeks to build a deliverable plan of action and identify
appropriate funding, governance and staffing of the service. The need for this
service was clear before the current pandemic - the need to rebuild and recover
the Greater Brighton economy now makes it an imperative.
do-nothing approach would indicate that previous approval for the need of this
work has now been de-prioritised due to the current situation. However, in a
post COVID world, the Greater Brighton region needs investment. No support for
inward investment would limit the potential recovery and economic growth of the
region at a time when neighbouring regions are increasing their activity
recommended budget allocation is a best-case scenario and with the financial
pressure faced by local authorities may not be a feasible option in the short
term. There are options to phase up to this level of funding and these could be
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT & CONSULTATION
Adam Breeze from Breeze Strategy has consulted with all Greater Brighton
Economic Board members and strategic partners for the development of both the
Pitch for Place narrative and the Inward Investment Desk. A list of these
consultees can be provided.
The Greater Brighton Officer Programme Board have been consulted on both
pieces of work and will continue to be consulted and updated on progress as and
Greater Brighton has an opportunity to address its relative under-performance
in inward investment by adopting a proactive approach to engaging potential
investors and supporting those already here. The post-Brexit and post-COVID
landscape makes this all the more important. There are particular opportunities
for Greater Brighton to take a more active role in the changes relating to how
and where companies establish a presence in the post-pandemic recovery. The
resourcing of an inward investment desk is a vital next step.
FINANCIAL & OTHER IMPLICATIONS:
establishment and resourcing of an inward investment desk is estimated to cost
approximately £250,000 per year. The proposal is to have a phased approach to
the service starting in 2021-22 at a cost of £120,000 before moving to the full
investment of £250,000 annually from 2022-23. The current GBEB operating budget
is not expected to have sufficient funds for this investment and therefore
alternative proposals include member authorities underwriting the initial
investment whilst permanent funding options are explored. This would include
seeking funding from any relevant Government initiatives and Coast to Capital
LEP funding, as well as private sector contributions and potential DIT funding.
Agreement with local authorities to support this underwriting proposal will be
required and fair proposal on the basis of the split also required.
Officer Consulted: Rob Allen, Principal Accountant
7.2 With reference to recommendation 2.1 to 2.4 of this report,
what is proposed falls within the functions of the Board as set out in
paragraph 3.2 of its Heads of Terms. In incurring expenditure, the Board should
consider the factors referred to in paragraph 3.3. of the heads of terms. In
addition, and with regards to the expenditure that will need to be authorised
by recommendation 2.4, the unanimous approval of the Board is required pursuant
to the Memorandum of Understanding that was entered into in accordance with
paragraph 13 of the Heads of Terms.
Consulted: Joanne Dunyaglo, Senior Property Lawyer
are no equalities implications directly arising from this report.
There are no sustainability implications directly arising from this report.
Brighton Place Narrative & Inward Investment (July 2020)
Brighton Inward Investment & Trade Strategy (April 2018)