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How can IPAs effectively foster regional innovation and strengthen cross-border R&D partnerships?

Great article by our friends at PM&P Germany. With a rush by IPAs to attract 'Lighthouse' Investors creating clusters of innovation excellence with common goals and community can hugely enhance the approach to high tech & innovation led industries with long term economic benefits.


Experience in day-to-day contact with clients has shown that not only for large organizations but also for SMEs and Start-Up companies, international co-operations in terms of R&D partnerships are often a highly welcomed opportunity to engage in new markets, test the grounds and grow expertise when developing new and improved products and processes. So how can IPAs support and grow local innovation capabilities cost and time effectively and foster these partnerships long term?


Best Practices

The competition among IPAs is fierce and often similar key location advantages and investment arguments are promoted to international companies. To stand out as a region, investment promotion agencies need to do more and offer a distinctive value proposition - for instance by including services which enable international companies to also grow within the region and beyond.


One of the key drivers for economic growth is technological advancement through innovation. Economists have calculated that approximately 50% of U.S. annual GDP growth is attributed to increases in innovation. The right framework of access to capital, infrastructure and skilled workforce is supporting innovation locally and IPAs who are fostering an innovative environment have a clear USP when attracting FDI.


There are multiple examples on a national and more regional level that show how IPAs can economically support R&D-partnerships and cross-border innovation. Below three examples from Invest in Canada, Business Sweden and Basel Area Business & Innovation are highlighted:


Invest in Canada promotes, facilitates and accelerates foreign direct investment (FDI) into Canada. Unlocking investment opportunities and facilitating expansion in Canada is a priority for successful investment promotion. Services are strongly aimed at providing clear and easy access to information on R&D-related programs and incentives as well as connecting all relevant players from industry, academia and government. For instance, one possibility for foreign companies to get involved directly in Digital Technology, Protein Industries, Next Generation Manufacturing, AI Powered Supply Chains and Ocean is through the Innovation Supercluster Initiative promoted by Invest in Canada. Foreign companies can join projects, provide and get access to technology solutions, meet the industry and access project funding.


Overall, relevant programs and incentives are clearly structured online, and each key sector description include information on available incentives as well as relevant clusters and research institutes. Interested investors can sign up directly to newsletters on specific topics as well as learn about individual programs through free webinars, in-person seminars and other self-assessment and learning-tools. The information presented is clearly structured, transparent and to the point.


“When global companies are looking to innovate and develop R&D partnerships, they turn to Canada. Canada’s highly skilled workforce and access to talent supports a mature innovation ecosystem. Invest in Canada works directly with those global companies at each stage of their investment, providing concierge service and world-class aftercare, identifying potential partners and government programs.”


Nathalie Béchamp, Chief, Investor Services


For more information on programs and incentives in Canada please visit:

Invest in Canada Website


Business Sweden has introduced an interactive map highlighting for instance the Nordic battery value chain as well as key infrastructure. For this national target sector, the map highlights relevant clusters as well as key companies. Also, there is the option to apply a filter and only look for companies/institutes active in Research & Development. You can then easily scroll through the results and read a short statement on individual research fields.


The website itself highlights the agency’s competences by providing a set of relevant and most common challenges for foreign investors in form of Q&As. Alongside the common challenges Business Sweden provides a statement on how they can help with this specific inquiry. Finally, they have pledged to answer to all incoming requests within 48 hours which acknowledges their professionalism.


It does not have to be an interactive map, however, to have one platform that bundles up relevant information on clusters and companies involved in R&D combined with a list of most relevant Q&As are highly effective tools to react and adapt to changes and new trends quickly. At the same time these online tools enable IPAs to present their companies to the global community and push international R&D-cooperations constantly.


“We have stepped up our efforts to provide powerful digital services to international companies looking to innovate, invest and expand in Sweden. Our location intelligence tool has been very effective to present ecosystem strengths and help clients find opportunities for establishments and R&D collaborations. We can offer insights on a map to paint the full picture of an industry or cluster with key companies, institutions, universities, test beds, competence, R&D capabilities, infrastructure and other useful data. This, along with a unique site selection tool, has been a great advantage for us, and our clients, now and in the future.”


Anna Hammarberg, Investment Cooperation Manager, Business Sweden


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#fdi #investmentpromotion #ipa #econdev #trade #innovation #crossborder #partnerships #ppp

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