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BEYOND20


started to become less random. It was at that point, around 1998, that I


thought: “This is going to be a big thing.” I saw the potential for a whole investment promo- tion sub-industry that needed describing to the world, and serving with a publication of what tracks these developments and practices. That really was the foundation of fDi.


Anewmagazine is born When I arrived at FT Business on January 1, 2000, the first day of the newmillennium, I put together a business launch plan for an global FDI publication. The first issue came out in the autumn of 2001. On one hand, there were corporations


around the world looking to become more effi- cient and take advantage of opportunities to glo- baliseandgrow.Onthe other, therewas abunch of cities, towns, counties, states, countries want- ing to better themselves, regenerate and diver- sify.Weset up fDi to serve that connection. Initially, investment promotion was cer-


tainly not sophisticated. Over the years, along- side the evolution of our editorial coverage, the whole market has become more scientifically driven and nuanced in its activity, both on the promotional side and in terms of best practices. In roughly 2006, having always tried to


rank locations and success in the market, we started to develop ourown unique benchmarks for the industry. And two years later, we acquired fDi Benchmark. I remember that it grew exponentially in the first three or four years: it was very successful. Meanwhile, the top FDI agencies in places


such as Scotland, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong,developedintoexpert careerFDIpractition- ers, which helped our business as they required more informationanddata, aswell as betterqual- ity and usability of that information and data.


The rise of digitisation The quality of this demandwas further boosted by the financial crisis in 2008. Following the crisis, therewas a reverse dias-


pora effect, whereby talented MBA graduates fromWall Street decidedto return to theirhome countries. There was a “reinflux” of talent into places like Colombia, Lebanon and the Balkans. All this played into the general growth of


FDI and the level of expertise required for infor- mation in the investment promotion market. We started to pinpoint themes and pillars within theworld of foreign investment, suchas social impact investing, radical urbanisation and the future of cities, bothmajor and second- tier.Webegan to becomedriven by the data and the trends that we were developing ourselves. One of these trends was and continues to be


digitisation. Investment promotion has gradu- allymoved away from beaches and golf courses and became more digitised, which is what led to our purchase of digital mapping company GIS Planning in 2017. North American economic development


organisations (EDOs) were certainly way ahead with their online and mapping strategies. We bought GIS Planning to bring that capability andefficiency to the rest of theworld—to places like Bordeaux, Dusseldorf and Gothenburg, all of which have really radiated from using it. Now, we’re looking at remote location pro-


motional technologies, which means people won’t have to fly halfway around the world to visit a site or to go to an event to drive their loca- tions. These are the changes that are coming, and we have and always will be at the forefront of serving these dynamics, but without disre- garding the human pride element behind FDI and regeneration. There are numerous stories of individuals or groups really going beyond the call of duty to serve their own location. This drive has turned us into a leading data,


information, network provider in the market- place. It put us in the position we are in, today, where we feel it’s incumbent on us to lead, to dig out these stories, find these trends, lead these trends, and cover them for the world — which we will continue to do beyond 2020.■


Angus Cushley is publishing director of fDi.


COMMENT


CITIESANDCOUNTRIES STARTED THINKING:WECAN BETTER OURSELVES


December 2020/January 2021 www.fDiIntelligence.com 27


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