Overseas investment is ready to drive regional regeneration across the UK

Sir Michael Bear

UK Trade & Investment’s Regeneration Investment Organisation (RIO) was formally announced by David Cameron, in November. Chairman and former Lord Mayor of The City of London, Sir Michael Bear explains. 

UK Trade & Investment’s Regeneration Investment Organisation (RIO) was formally announced by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, on 11 November 2013 with the specific mandate of accelerating growth and jobs in the UK through foreign investment in urban regeneration projects. 

Today, some 180 verified projects could offer an investor double digit returns - and across asset classes that span the length and breadth of the country.  Project capital value is over £100bn with the potential to create 640,000 jobs and 90,000 residential units. 

However, the UK’s regen offer has been fragmented with project delays and uncertainty, making it difficult for investors to navigate their route to market.  RIO’s approach has been to help investors find a credible pipeline of UK development opportunities that match their appetite. 

It works to identify and and iron out any bumps in the road such as ensuring the right support from key stakeholders such as Local Enterprise Partnerships and Local Authorities who might not understand how a foreign investor will approach a market like the UK – so finding an investor the right development partner is also a critical part to any successful journey.  

Already 41 ‘shovel-ready’ projects are attracting investor interest with the potential to create 170,000 sustainable jobs in politically ambitious areas such as Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield and match the government’s decentralisation policy and initiatives such as Regional and Local Growth funds.  

Meeting a stringent set of entry criteria ensures all projects are highly valuable and investable, enabling an inherent investor trust in RIO and its sponsored projects.

Projects that might resonate with readers will be Battersea Power Station and Manchester Airport City which offer a host of long-term supply chain opportunities and then lesser known projects such as Edinburgh’s Fountainbridge and Liverpool Waters can be accessed at www.ukti-regeneration.com 

With the advice of its independent Advisory Board drawn from ‘big hitters’ from Industry, Government, the Regions, Finance and Urban Planning and DesignRIO is focusing on investment from 7 priority markets; Qatar, UAE, China, Singapore, Malaysia, US and Canada.  

Intermediary contacts help RIO access investors at the right level as does the government’s diplomatic network – for example, hosting a ministerial-led event at an Ambassador’s Residence in a key market can underline the government’s support for regeneration in the strongest terms.  In other markets however, this approach is not so important where meetings are held directly with investors at their office or when they visit the UK.  

RIO’s ambition is to deliver £3.5bn of investment wins next financial year.  

As Prime Minister David Cameron said: "This will act as a one-stop-shop for our major inward investment opportunities - with £100 billion of possible projects on the table… These projects won’t just mean new jobs in London or the South East – but right across the whole country.”