News from our London office
U.K. interest in the U.S. heats up
Since the Brexit referendum of June 2016, many surveys have shown that weak business confidence around the U.K. Despite excellent growth figures, record employment and very strong inward investment, British businesses have been reluctant to make major investment decisions until the terms under which the U.K. will leave the European Union are clear.
For whatever reason, this has all changed in recent months this has all changed. The FCEDA UK office has seen more new prospects in six months than in total across the two years previous.
Interest is coming from a diverse range of sectors including cybersecurity, defense, healthcare, transportation, business and urban planning services, nanotechnology and energy production and storage. All are attracted by the favorable business and investment environment in Fairfax County, easy access with good service from the U.K., and in many cases by proximity to key customers and regulators in nearby Washington, D.C.
All FCEDA services are free and confidential, but watch this space for corporate announcements in 2020.
FCEDA UK’s ‘stadium tour’
The UK’s obsession with football (‘soccer’ to American ears) means that almost every medium-sized city and all large ones have a stadium or two. Usually they have convenient road and rail access, loads of parking and some first class facilities for corporate entertainment. Owners have realized that those assets can be generating cash-flow, even when no sporting events are scheduled.
FCEDA UK has been taking advantage of these venues. Working with our partner Newable, U.K. Director Ian Metcalf has appeared at a number of “America Made Easy” events in stadia across the country. No, we haven’t been generating the crowds of 30,000+ that a good match or rock concert might generate, but groups of 30 to 50 interested SMEs are normal and the surroundings seem to provoke a more informal atmosphere and livelier debate than more starchy venues.
Speed-Dating for the Middle Aged
A typical FCEDA U.K. engagement with a prospect company starts with a meeting at a conference or tradeshow and follows up with a one-on-one consultation at the company’s premises and production of background data and a project plan for a U.S. launch. The process works well, but we are always keen to try alternatives, working closely with partners such as the U.K. government’s Department for International Trade (DIT).
In September, one such alternative was tried, working alongside a UK trade promotion company called “Go to Market Global.” The company invited half a dozen experts in international trade, representing the DIT, immigration, employment and corporate law, taxation, trade promotion and in this case the FCEDA, and then match them with around 30 companies over two days that have expressed a previous interest in expanding to the U.S.
Instead of a conference format, each company has a series of 30-minute one-on-one sessions with the experts, hence “speed-dating.”
Of course, the FCEDA still offers follow-ups, and in the case of this launch event it has already generated several companies that have been over for a tour of Fairfax County, to meet potential customers and business partners, hosted by FCEDA HQ.
The event was held at Rocketspace in Islington, London – a fantastic venue, crammed with start-ups, scale-ups and investors in the vaults of a former bank. Our next speed-dating session will be in March 2020, kindly hosted by United Airlines at the London Heathrow offices.