This is a blogpost by Kathrin Deter who participated IPA Forum 2014 as an interested outsider. Her blog is available at: newswave.eu.
During June 9-10th I was invited to participate in the Investment Promotion Agency (IPA) Forum 2014, partly hosted by the ONE BSR project. To be honest, I didn’t really have a clue what I was getting in to, I am not from the field per se– but nonetheless the programme looked interesting and I figured my business degree should be of some help in comprehending things, so I did a little homework and signed up. So please be aware that this little text is not supposed to be a professional report on the meeting, merely a blog entry to give you an insight to my experience at the forum.
The first day took place in the wonderful Haltia Nature Centre in Nuuksio National Park, about 30 minutes drive from Helsinki. Located in the heart of the forest, the centre features an exhibition to experience and learn about Finnish National parks, but also provides features meeting facilities. After a tour through the exhibition the Forum kicked off and I was thrown in cold water. I think I was the only “outsider” amongst a bunch of international investment promotion professionals, but thanks to some great key-note-speakers and host, I felt like I actually learnt a lot. I only zoned out for a bit during a couple of the speeches towards the end of the first part, but overall it was interesting and educative to see.
The major topic around which all key notes roamed was the question on how investments can be drawn to the Baltic Sea Region and attract foreign direct investments (FDI). Focus here was the region as one, not necessarily looking at particular countries. Already during the Strategy and Branding meeting I attended in December, it showed again clearly that exactly this is a problem for the BSR and related projects. The lack of a common understanding and identity makes it difficult to understand what the actual aim is – what should this region be, represent and become? In order to develop a strategy, considering branding or investments, there is still a bit of work to be done on some general things.
The same issue was a much-discussed topic also on the second day, which took place in the Aalto Design Factory in Espoo, just outside of Helsinki. Similar to the Startup-Sauna that’s located right next to it, it’s workspace and all kinds of facilities provided by the Aalto university. Prior to the event I had chosen to take part in the marketing track. In this workshop the focus group of marketing professionals from the FDI discussed questions related the cooperation of IPA agencies throughout the BSR and what could generally be done marketing-wise to increase awareness and interest in companies to bring business and investment into the Baltic Sea region.
The other workshop-groups discussed similar questions yet with different focus points and presented their final and best idea in form of a short video at the closing session at the end of the forum. Unfortunately my group didn’t win the competition of the bestest idea (but we came in second, I think?!) so we didn’t get chocolate.
My conclusion? It was worth going. I met very interesting people, learned a lot – not only about the BSR but mainly about investment promotion and what it’s all about, and foreign direct investment, its importance and the opportunities the BSR has to offer to companies – if they manage to figure themselves out in the first place. I’m also happy that apart from dropping my coffee and spilling it all over the place and people, I managed to keep a low profile, benefit from the input and even contribute a thing or two so it wasn’t too obvious that I was the outsider in the crowd.
NewsWave.eu is a Copenhagen based news website publishing a daily selection of articles chosen from monitoring regional and EU news titles. NewsWave is partly financed by the Baltic Sea Program 2009-2013 under the umbrella of the project ONE BSR.