Yorkshire and Humberside has recorded the highest level of inward investment in two decades, according to new research.

The region attracted 98 foreign direct investment projects in 2016, more than in any year since 1997, the latest EY UK Attractiveness Survey has found.

A total of 25 different countries invested in projects in the region, the most of which originated in the US, which launched 30 projects. Germany invested in ten projects, France started nine and Austria, Ireland and the Netherlands each invested in five projects.

The 98 projects represented an increase of 24 per cent compared to 2015 and manufacturing projects led the surge in investment in the region in 2016, making up 57 per cent of all projects, followed by financial and business services which accounted for 15 per cent.

Suzanne Robinson, Yorkshire and Humber senior partner at EY, said: “The work that has taken place to position the whole of Yorkshire and Humberside as a strong investment location in the global marketplace is starting to pay off.

“These figures show that the international investment community has seen the potential in the region, with its access to the right skills, infrastructure and strong supply chain networks.

“Manufacturing in particular has seen strong growth in this region.”

She added: “This is not just from factories, the Yorkshire and Humber region attracted four headquarters, four logistics facilities, three testing centres and two training centres in 2016, demonstrating the strength and diversity of skills available in this region to foreign investors.

“However looking beyond manufacturing, the number of software projects in this region fell from six to two, and research and development  projects fell from five to just one, which clearly defines a need to focus more resources in these areas in the future.”

According to EY’s chief economist Mark Gregory, the impact of the Brexit vote and the Northern Powerhouse initiative were beginning to have an impact on investment.

“The research suggests that the EU referendum vote and its aftermath may be having an influence on global perceptions of the UK’s medium to long-term attractiveness,” Gregory said.

“Western European investors are twice as negative as Asian and North American investors.

“Decisions on the majority of investments made in 2016 would have been made up to three years ago, which helps to explain Yorkshire’s – and the wider UK’s – solid performance last year, but signs of a slowdown are on the horizon.”

Robinson added: “The concept of a Northern Powerhouse has undoubtedly helped to improve the overall attractiveness of the region.

“However, it will need to remain a key priority consistently for the medium term if we are to realise the full economic benefit from re-balancing the economy.”

“What is clear, is that the UK has a short window to act.

“On a positive note, across the North in particular we have a solid base to build from, with globally renowned strengths.

“A rapid response and clear strategy can help strengthen our position for inward investment from all parts of the globe.”

Source: Joshua Hammond, Business Insider, 23rd May 2017

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