Let’s talk partnership

Let’s talk partnership.

Not the nicey-nicey, process-focused Kumbaya type, but collaboration that makes genuine impact and change.

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Marketing Derby is what is called in the business an Investment Promotion Agency (IPA) with a role to promote Derby and Derbyshire in order to attract inward investment.

Every city, region and country has an IPA – I recently received an invite to meet with Invest in Iraq – meaning the world of inward investment is intensely competitive.

Investors can’t go everywhere, but they do like to have options, and, in my experience, their decisions are invariably based on a cocktail of the emotional and rational - perception and reality – plus how they are received and encouraged by a place.

Marketing Derby is itself a collaboration with a unique business model.

Our single largest source of funding is our Bondholders - the 350 companies, large and small, who contribute a fee which drives our activity.

Complementing this is funding from the public sector, including a 12-year relationship with Derby City Council, a new relationship with Derbyshire County Council and the support of D2N2, via ESIF funding.

We recently engaged a company called Conway – world-leading investment consultants based in Atlanta, Georgia – to carry out an independent analysis of our impact. Conway work globally for the likes of Invest in Paris or Invest Toronto meaning they were therefore able to apply their evolved assessment tools to our numbers.

We will be communicating the key conclusions to stakeholders this summer but headlines include the fact that, over the past three years, Marketing Derby has attracted 1,354 jobs and £359m of capital investment, delivering an impact to the city’s GVA of £333m.

Of course, we keep a tag on all our numbers so some of this wasn’t a surprise. What was interesting though was the emphasis Conway made in identifying that key to this success is our business model – that of a trusted, independent, honest broker, sitting between the investor and place, focused on helping to land the investment.

It’s always good to receive third party endorsement which is why we were especially pleased when the Financial Times FDI award was presented to us this year for having the best Digital IPA Strategy in the world, beating both Invest in New York and Hong Kong into second and third place respectively.

Core to our pitch to investors is the strength of the local economy which we promote as being the UK Capital for Innovation.

This is based on a 300-year track record, from being home to the world’s first factory - the UNESCO recognised Derby Silk Mill in 1721 - through to today being the world headquarters of one of the most innovative companies on the planet, Rolls-Royce plc.

Investors like to feel a place is ‘on the up’ which is why items such as last week’s news of Bombardier’s £2.5bn deal to design and build the Cairo monorail system in Derby is so welcome.

Earlier this month we held one of our ubiquitous Marketing Derby Embassy events on the 34th floor of a city of London skyscraper, Broadgate Tower. There, it was interesting to hear investors talk openly about how the rise of the University of Derby in the league tables, now standing at 26th with the Guardian, was a factor in their thinking.

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Some time ago, we created the Invest in Derby Red Carpet, a deceptively simple concept designed to handhold investors through their journey. It starts with our London footprint – where we have an office and Ambassadors’ Club – and continues locally as we strive to ease their investment experience.

No matter how fancy, a red carpet cannot replace a viable business case, but when investors can meet the City Council leadership, one-to-one, at our Embassy in London, it makes a tremendous difference to their experience of place. They begin to feel part of the team.

We are of course focused on bringing investment into Derby and Derbyshire but we are not parochial and so recognise the benefit of regional collaboration.

Marketing Derby helped initiate the incredibly successful Midlands Pavilion at the MIPIM commercial property show, held each March in Cannes. Investors love the fact that we are big enough to see the benefit of working across regions and we have received record enquires at MIPIM as a result.

International platforms will always be one of the main drivers of co-operation and the work we now do in China – Derby being twined with Hefei and Derbyshire with Anhui – is supplemented by midlands-wide collaboration in missions and exhibitions across China.

We believe and practice ‘collaboration with purpose’ and so it’s appropriate to end with a Chinese expression that neatly sums up this approach – ‘many hands make light work’.