Locate in Kent, the county’s investment promotion agency, has appointed three agencies to help identify foreign companies looking to relocate or expand their operations.
England Development Agency in the USA, Sector Marketing of Germany and Frenger in France have been appointed to help identify potential leads in their respective markets, following a competitive tender process.
“One of our key roles is to encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) into Kent,” said Paul Wookey, Chief Executive of Locate in Kent.
“While we have had a successful Memorandum of Understanding with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) for the past year or so, which has helped identify a number of targets, and we ensure that we support overseas companies already in Kent through our aftercare programme, we need to cast our net as widely as possible to find and attract as much overseas investment as possible.”
The appointment of the three agencies aims to bolster Locate in Kent’s successful efforts in attracting FDI. In 2012-13, 15 overseas owned companies either started up in, or expanded or relocated to, Kent from places as diverse as New Zealand, India and Denmark, creating 559 jobs and retaining 277.
“FDI is particularly important as the investment from foreign companies tends to be greater in both capital and jobs terms than that of domestic businesses, and companies that move here from abroad often reinvest later,” said Paul.
He added that the US, Germany and France had been targeted as they are countries whose companies had a proven record of investment in the UK, with latest figures showing 188 US owned companies operating from Kent, with 69 French and 47 German.
The United States and Germany in particular have burgeoning life sciences businesses – a sector identified as particularly important for Kent, home to Discovery Park and Kent Science Park.
The appointments were made possible through £150,000 of funding from Kent County Council.
KCC Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, Mark Dance, said: “We had a lot of applications from some excellent agencies for these three roles.
“The tender process was competitive and rigorous and I am confident we have appointed three agencies that will quickly begin to generate really valuable leads for Locate in Kent.
“There should be no doubt as to just how important the North American, German and French markets are to Kent in terms of FDI. We need a strong presence in all three if we are to attract crucial investment and jobs.
“By supporting Locate in Kent in appointing these new partners, we are confident we will soon see positive results in terms of new jobs being created here in Kent.”
Each agency has been awarded a three-year contract, subject to annual reviews.
The partners in the England Development Agency have a combined total of more than 40 years’ experience in trans-Atlantic economic development.
The sectors in the US which show the greatest promise for Kent are primarily life sciences and ICT. The tax situation in the US presents good opportunities, specifically the Corporate tax rate and the medical device tax. The US has one of the highest tax rates in the world at 40% while the UK is 23%, ultimately heading to 20%.
In addition, the new US healthcare law levies a 2.3% tax on revenue. Combine these factors with the Patent Box opportunity and EDA believes it makes the timing good for targeting companies in those industries.
Frenger International is one of the leading providers of FDI consultancy, helping attract investment projects from abroad. It has a database of more than 10,000 companies, which is updated regularly, and identifies an average of 100 investment projects each year for its partners.
The agency sees High Speed 1 and Ebbsfleet International station as key attractions for French companies, meaning they can find the right location at a lower price than they would in London, and benefit from the better quality of life Kent has to offer.
Sector Marketing is a leading UK-based international marketing and event management agency specialising in FDI whilst also providing marketing strategy, trade show and event support, lead generation and PR.
The team at Sector Marketing understands the dynamics of the international market place and knows what works. While its main bases are in the UK (Bristol, Birmingham and London), it also has staff and associates in Europe, North America and Asia.
Sector has a track record in delivering effective lead generation programmes and tailored market entry with clients from multiple sectors including aerospace, advanced engineering, energy, ICT, life sciences and tourism.