1st Investor Conversation with Reps from E. Europe / Middle East / Africa

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Our Economic Development Team connected with another group representing investment groups spanning Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Eygpt.
Currently, the conversation is in the exploration stage but interest seems high around innovation services.  Particularly the ability to build out start-up incubation services in key areas of technology critical for these regions.   These services would be used to support US based start-ups and the exchange of international based startups to incubate in the USA all with goals of having commercial potential to solve challenges in their regions.    Most of these technologies around water, energy, agriculture, etc would have applicability around the world so are high priority efforts for many investment groups.
What has been interesting over these past few months of hosting international delegations is not only the similarity of interests in innovation, education, and exchange,  but the vast diversity of how they view investments in different cities in the USA.   Some of the factors that seem to create the variance is determined by:
  1. Where they see the strength, growth/decline,  or emergence of industry clusters in the USA.   Cities with old brands are not attractive and cities with significant international brand and clear economic development plans for the region attract attention.  Note:  This is not always the biggest US cities that have the best plan forward and those plans are not always lead by government agencies but more private economic development companies working collaboratively across the region.
  2. Demographics of the overall region.  How international is the area?
  3. Education opportunities,  what international programs exist or willingness to develop.
  4. Current USA industries working in their region
  5. Current regional government engagement with the international region.   This is more state level vs. federal.  How proactive is has the state been to do outreach and build relationships.
  6. The vibrancy of the startup economy:  The amount of investment corporations or Venture Capitalists had made in their local region.
  7. The personal networks of the investors in partnership with other USA investors.
  8. Willingness to partner in foreign the capital stack between domestic and international money.en
  9. Vetting and background checks of all parties.
  10. Personal networks / history of past business success.
Our next step is to partner with the US Commercial Services to vet these opportunities / sources at this time.
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2nd Investor Delegation from SE Asia

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Our Economic Development Team hosted the second delegation from SE Asia this month.   This group was based out of Seoul Korea and represented interests in S. Korea, Philippines, and Malaysia.    The core focus of this conversation focused on international exchange programs around both education and business services.
Business areas included:
  • Professional high-density courses for business professional looking for advanced degrees in various business disciplines.
  • Professional briefing in both industry overviews and global market trends.
  • Professional networking services between nations based on industry focus areas.
  • Professional Industry Immersion experiences.
  • Professional and Student based training in English (  note:  With world legislation around Patents and IP center on English is becoming a critical education path for many countries to support overall workforce development.
  • Student Industry Internships.
  • Student based training in business and vocational professions.
  • Professional and Student based orientation & long term stay services ( prior to many of the services list above )
Many of these services are being implemented in countries across SE Asia as both predatory for their business professionals and students.   The goal is to embed these services in all countries to facility easy exchange and support business activities.  Individual firms in the region have contracted over 14,000 instructors from countries all over the world.
Online services are also a key component of the discussion.    Many of these programs in SE Asia have already built extensive online solutions to support both global-scale through partnerships with large technology and communication vendors.   A key learning was that no vendor provided a comprehensive solution  especially in supporting the diversity of infrastructure found between the most advanced cities and the most remote rural locations.   In most cases best of breed solutions needed to be developed and constantly evolved.
There was really strong momentum around partnership opportunities with the US academic institutions and 3rd party businesses we are working with.    Future meetings are currently being planned to discuss implementation of these services across countries.

1st Investor Delegation from SE Asia

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Our Economic Development Team hosted a foreign delegation from Vietnam that represented a large investment hedge fund based in Singapore. This particular group was travelling to the United States representing a broad spectrum of business partnerships and evaluating investment opportunities.   Three major areas of focus included:
  1. Discussions around building new international services around Innovation, Education, and Exchange.   In particular, this group was interested in international exchange services that would facility business networking,  professional & student education, and potential for two-way access to start-ups and technology.
  2. Members of this effort also represented very large scale real estate develops in emerging countries that included both high rise living and resort properties.   They were looking for strategic partnerships to US suppliers and manufacturers in the construction of these large properties due to poor materials sourcing from China.
  3. This group is also supporting a new North American-based global financial platform and was talking with our business partners about integrating this platform under many of the large real estate / campus projects.   This platform supports a broad array of credit card and analytics features on an international scale differentiated from most of the largest platforms today.   It includes aspects of currency exchange and ability to transfer funds under a process model of governance of approvals for control and audibility.   As technology increases the ability to transfer and establish governance models at various levels of society it raises a larger global issue around the movement of capital across national boundaries.   The platforms will ultimately bring new regulation around global cooperation and security but could be certainly disruptive in the mean time.
Upon the delegation returning to Asia we have continued ongoing discussions around these opportunities.

1st Investor Conversation with Norway

B8BB1187-965D-4542-8DB6-5C84217803B5.jpgOur Economic Development Team met with investor reps from Norway.   We explored interest levels around investment in innovation, education, and exchange centers to facilitate stronger international business.  Norway has a very strong culture of innovation and education.   They were very open to looking at international partnerships.   Aspects of the discuss centered on the challenges they face in commercializing and large scale manufacturing of new innovations due to regional costs and the benefit of international partnerships to achieve those goals.   They also talked about investment criteria and key regions in the USA that they are targeting investments.   Their portfolio of interest is also a blend of short term and long term investment objectives which also dictate criteria for selection.

 

Investment Conversations with Dubai

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This month marked a conversation with Dubai for the business development team.   The middle east is actively looking for diversification strategies away from their long-standing oil sector.   North America in is a likely candidate for diversification and strategic partnerships simply due to the stability of the region and wide availability of hard assets / land that could be secured can be secured for long-term investment. This is a very familiar theme that I have encountered with foreign delegations visiting the USA and in many international    The group was able to meet with over ten advisors to the royal family to discuss opportunities past land and real estate opportunities, but to explore interest levels in building new forms of innovation centers, education centers,  and international exchange programs for business, start-ups, and students.
Insights from the ongoing discussions :
  •  The economy in the middle east is rapidly impacted by global events their attention rapidly pivots.  It is only when oil prices are stable that the attention can begin to consider the long-term investment horizon.
  • The interest level is high to build a variety of international exchange services around innovation and education.
  • Bringing new innovation technologies to the middle east is critical to meet many of the challenges facing the region.
  • New education programs are essential to help develop the workforce for tomorrow’s job needs.
  • Basic business services are needed to make international networking easier and supported by a references system.
  • Land and real estate can be viable long term options but the key will be to do in in partnership with direct domestic investment partners in the region.
  • There are many vehicles for moving large amounts of international funds through support the US Federal Commercial Services,  EB-5 Programs, and international banking services.  New emerging companies are creating a next-generation  banking platforms  are also rising that offer interesting capabilities around fund transfer and currency translation that will probably usher in new forms of regulation.
Continued dialogue is planned and the potential to host a foreign delegation is being considered in the coming months.  With potential trips being explored in both directions to have more stakeholders vet the opportunities.