Donald Reid Group

Why should foreign firms invest in the Thames Valley?

A day spent at the recent 2014 Thames Valley’s International Technology Conference was a good reminder of why the area is viewed as Britain’s silicon valley and why it is so good at attracting inbound investment across a broad range of sectors.

An international hub

The conference stressed the importance of the Thames Valley to the UK’s economy. Currently, there are 115,000 businesses located in the area – and, when compared to the national UK average, has 60% more international businesses, 100% more US businesses and 260% more Japanese businesses.

In fact, if you exclude London, more inbound business have recently set up in operations in the Thames Valley than any other areas of the UK. Furthermore, more European headquarters, outside the capital, are situated in the Thames Valley than any other location in the United Kingdom.

Clusters of excellence

The area is known for clusters of excellence - for example, technology, space, film and motorsports. These clusters comprise of large world-class operations and numerous innovative, nimble SMEs – providing a good mix of established and disruptive technologies.

Technology is a particular strength. The Thames Valley is home to 11 out of the world’s top 15 tech companies (TVCC Whitepaper). Wokingham is the number 1 tech job cluster in the UK, with the proportion of tech jobs in Wokingham being five times the national average – and the next nine tech job hotspots are in close proximity to the M4, M3 and M25 motorways (KPMG Tech Monitor).

The area is also known for its film and entertainment expertise. The famous Pinewood Shepperton film and TV studios attracts business from around the world, providing outstanding facilities and specialist skills for all elements of film and TV production.

Motorsports in the UK is also a particular strength, with 8 out the 11 Formula One teams located in the UK. The world-class facility at Silverstone provides a focus to a cluster of automotive expertise in the area.

Skill base in the Thames Valley

Whilst there is an excellent pool of highly qualified people in the area, finding candidates with an appropriate level of specialist skills can be a challenge. The ability of traditional educational routes to supply the required skills for specialist sectors is an area of constant debate. Silverstone has tackled this issue by setting up educational establishment for 14-19 year olds with a particular focus on high performance engineering and business and technical events management.

UK is open for business

The conference stressed the importance of the UK as the top European destination for inward foreign direct investment. In fact the UK receives double the FDI to that of Germany. Internationally, the UK’s strengths are seen to be:

  • Good access to European markets
  • Geographical location
  • Time zone
  • Language
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Good labour mobility
Why invest in the Thames Valley?

The Thames Valley itself, was viewed by the conference, to have a number of particular advantages:

  • Good transport links, with Heathrow and the M4, M3 and M25 within easy access
  • Good IT infrastructure
  • Easy access to London and its financial services
  • Highly skilled workforce in a range of specialist sectors
  • Clusters in excellence in a range of sectors including IT, space, film and entertainment, automotive etc
  • Great place to live with good education and areas of outstanding beauty

If you would like to discuss inward investment into the UK and setting up a subsidiary or branch in the UK, please do get in touch. We would love to hear from you.

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