Nordics Attractiveness Survey 2019

The Nordic region continued to attract high numbers of FDI projects in 2018 — albeit below the level achieved in 2017 – reflecting a declining trend seen across Europe.

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In 2018, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden collectively secured 340 inward investment projects, down by 71 projects, or 17%, from the 411 projects recorded in 2017. While the headlines reveal a weakened FDI position for the region, closer inspection of the figures reveals a mixed picture among the individual Nordic countries.

For the full findings, download our survey where we suggest how the Nordic region can boost FDI and the economic benefits it brings.

With business appetite to invest in Europe fading as a result of continuing economic and political uncertainty, competition for foreign investment is set to intensify further. The Nordic countries' future ability to secure FDI will rely on its proven strengths and by implementing responses aimed at improving long-term attractiveness.
Linda Andersson
Partner, EY Sweden

Keyfindings

Nordic-wide

  • Foreign investors launched 340 projects, down 17% from the 411 projects recorded in 2017.
  • Finland once again topped the Nordics' FDI project leaderboard with a record 194 investments.
  • Denmark, Norway and Sweden all saw a reduction in FDI project numbers in 2018.
  • Digital FDI projects declined 5% in the region, despite digital FDI project growth of 5% across Europe as a whole.
  • R&D FDI projects grew 13% in 2018, driven by strong numbers recorded in Finland.

Denmark

  • Denmark saw FDI project numbers fall in 2018, as foreign investors launched 56 investments, down from 86 investments in 2017.
  • US-based businesses were the leading source of FDI into Denmark, accounting for 29% of all FDI projects launched in 2018.

Finland

  • Finland recorded its third consecutive record year for FDI projects, securing 194 investments, up from 191 in the previous year.
  • Swedish-based businesses generated the largest number of projects in Finland, launching 58 investments in 2018.

Norway

  • Norway secured 17 foreign investments in 2018, its lowest tally of projects since 2010.
  • The majority of FDI projects initiated in Norway were by US-based businesses, with six investments in total.

Sweden

  • Sweden experienced a decline in FDI volumes in 2018, with 73 investments secured, down from 108 investments in 2017.
  • Businesses based in the US created more projects in Sweden in 2018 than any other country, with 15 investments initiated.

Viewpoint

No room for digital complacency

Findings from EY's European Attractiveness Survey 2019 reveal that business leaders are increasingly resolute in their belief that the digital economy will drive Europe's future growth. Of those surveyed, 39% opined that the digital economy will be the foremost sector propelling wider economic growth in the coming years. These views are supported by EY's recently reported FDI figures, which show foreign investors launched a record high 1,227 projects in the digital sector in Europe in 2018, a 5% increase compared with the previous year. Furthermore, Europe's digital sector attracted more FDI than any other industry for the sixth consecutive year.

The rampant growth of digital FDI has been a welcome one for the Nordic region, with foreign investors attracted by the region's digital leadership, innovative culture and technologically-skilled workforce. However, as I suggested last year in EY's Nordic Attractiveness Report 2018, complacency is a clear and present risk that threatens the region’s digital competitiveness. This is brought into sharper focus considering the Nordic region suffered a disappointing fall in both digital FDI project numbers and European market share in 2018. As the digital sector accounted for 27% of all FDI projects into the Nordics in 2018 – up from 17% just two years ago – the region's sustained ability to attract investment in this leading FDI sector is paramount.

For the Nordic countries to succeed in an increasingly disruptive digital landscape, intensified efforts are needed in cultivating highly-collaborative, innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystems that are underpinned by mutual contribution between large and small market players. In addition, there is a great opportunity to strengthen the region’' approach to the sector through development of a clearer and more coordinated digital strategy that is responsive to investor priorities. Finally, the region must invest further in broadening and enhancing digital skills, with governments and businesses equally responsible for boosting the Nordics' digital talent. The time to act is now – there is no longer room for digital complacency.

Terje Andersen, Partner, EY Norway, EY EMEIA Digital Leader

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