Cities in Europe for business
As the European economy looks to return to growth, we look at the region’s best destinations for business
London has long ranked amongst the region’s best cities for business and last year, according to Brooking Institution, had the fifth largest city economy worldwide in terms of GDP – $731.2bn. Despite high living costs and lofty wage expectations, London is a go-to destination for international business and boasts a great many opportunities for those participating to interact with otherwise unreachable businesses and markets.
Copenhagen is Denmark’s business and financial capital, which last year ranked sixth in the World Bank’s Doing Business rankings – the highest in Europe. The city alone accounts for near 25 percent of both Sweden and Denmark’s GDP and is unparalleled the world over for its focus on R&D and for spearheading developments in cleantech.
Amsterdam is year-on-year cited as a business destination for the future, however it is also currently one of the region’s foremost financial centres and home to seven of the world’s top 500 companies. The city’s excellent transport system, its many languages spoken and its relatively meagre wage expectations lend themselves well to business.
If Paris were a country it would rank seventeenth in the world in terms of GDP, which goes some way in understanding the many and various business opportunities contained within. The city’s topmost business prospects are available to high-value-added service industries and high-tech manufacturing, which each represent a sizeable portion of the city’s many enterprises.
In sharp contrast to Paris and London, Berlin’s cost of living is relatively low, which lends itself well to small and large companies alike. An estimated third of the world’s fifty largest companies have offices in Berlin, which has managed to maintain a marked degree of competitiveness even through times of economic woe.
High voltage circuit breaker
Zurich-based research conglomerate ABB has developed a high-voltage DC circuit breaker capable of transmitting renewable transmissions long distances with minimal power loss. The installation of the component could allow for complex grid systems and alleviate many of the intermittency concerns associated with renewables at present. Image courtesy of ABB.
Bladeless wind turbines
Developed by TU Delft and designed by Mecanoo architects, EWICON (Electrostatic Wind Energy CONverter) boasts the capacity to convert wind into electricity without the use of moving parts. As such, the mechanism is not only cheaper than conventional wind turbines but produces a much lesser extent of noise pollution, making them ideal for urban areas. Image courtesy of Mecanoo.
Lithium sulphur batteries
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have recently developed a lithium-sulphur rechargeable battery capable of storing four times the energy of lithium-ions. Although the technology is early on in its development stage, the battery is a more efficient, stable and cheaper method of storing energy and is meant specifically for electricity derived from solar power. Image courtesy of Oak Ridge Laboratory.
Newcomers Pavegen last year pioneered a means of converting the kinetic energy derived from footfall and transmitting it directly into the national grid. The technology takes the form of a paving slab which when walked upon generates electricity. The slabs were utilised at this year’s Paris marathon as well as at the London Olympics last year. Image courtesy of Pavegen.
Ultra efficient solar power
Advances in micro solar technology have led to Caltech professor Harry Atwater claiming he can manipulate light at a much smaller scale than was previously possible, which will effectively double the capacity of today’s solar panels. The technology does so by splitting sunlight into six to eight wavelengths and transmitting them to a semiconductor.
Over 68 percent of companies profiled by CBRE have offices or bureaus in Hong Kong, despite it being the most expensive office location in the world. However, the enduring popularity of the islands for business is reflective of a shift in the global economic power. “Hong Kong is the key gateway city for accessing China and is the city set to benefit the most from gradual liberalisation of the Chinese financial markets,” explains Nick Axford, from CBRE.
Close to 67 percent of companies have business locations in Singapore, again reflecting a shift in the global economic landscape. “As future global economic growth is expected to be fuelled by emerging markets, particularly in Asia, cities like Singapore and other large Asian centres are being viewed as key business hubs for exploiting that anticipated growth in the region,” explains Axford.
Tokyo has long since been a hotbed for business activity, and has held on to its position despite the lingering economic downturn faced by Japan. “Location decisions are typically driven by corporate strategies designed to costs, access low cost or skilled workers and reach new markets,” and Tokyo is certainly rife with skilled professionals.
Two thirds of companies profiled by CBRE have settled in England’s capital, which is also the top destination for professional services. London is especially popular with media technology and telecoms companies. “Of the global companies which have an office presence in London, only 25 percent are from the banking and finance sector, with London also identified as the leading centre, in terms of companies present, for professional services and the media, technology and telecoms sectors,” says Peter Damesick from CBRE.
Overall China is the fourth most attractive market to office occupiers, with Shanghai and Beijing featuring in the top ten most desirable destinations for business activities. According to CBRE, Shanghai is emerging as the top business and finance capital of China, which is why 61.4 percent of international companies surveyed have offices in the city; “The combined impact of rapid growth in mainland China’s major markets, easy reach access to other major Asian economies and Asia’s world-leading emergence from the global recession” are other major factors.