Attracting Global Capital in an Era of Unprecedented Competition

Levelling the International Playing Field

Salah Mussa, Chairman of Mercantile Group

In an era of unprecedented competition for global capital, every nation needs an edge. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) reached a total of $870bn (£620bn) in the first half of 2021 according to the OECD, with the UK receiving 5% of this figure – the third highest level of investment received by any country worldwide behind China and the United States.

New horizons present challenges, but also opportunities within a network of open and consolidating trading blocs. In an era of global Britain, to attract this kind of investment from abroad, the UK will have to differentiate itself to avoid losing out. FDI and the relationships we forge with other countries will be crucial going forward, with burgeoning industries like life sciences, advanced engineering, aerospace and software development set to play a major role in securing it.

FDI is replete with benefits. Inflows from countries like France, Germany and Canada were crucial to opening up new employment opportunities in the UK at the height of a pandemic that otherwise stifled job creation. Encouraging investment from abroad will be important to fulfilling the government’s levelling up agenda by stimulating growth outside of the traditional regions of prosperity by adding to and creating supply chains, creating new networks and adding to our spending power, which paves the way for further investment opportunities.

One of the country’s greatest opportunities for FDI comes in the form of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. As the UK’s emerging scientific and technological centre of growth, DIT-led FDI projects in the Arc led to the creation of over 26,000 jobs between 2015 and 2020. More broadly, the UK’s market share in Europe for FDI set to break its record of 17.5% in 2020 owing principally to its vibrant knowledge economy.

International investment interest in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc has never been greater than now. Last year we witnessed a wealth of investment into the area including the acquisition by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, of a 40% stake in Oxford Science Park, supporting the Magdalene College-owned park’s ambitious development plans. In the life sciences sector, Blackstone’s BioMed Realty recently added $1.12bn to its property portfolio in the form of Cambridge International Technology Park and a seat at Granta Park – a monumental vote of confidence in the Arc which is now responsible for a fifth of all innovation and spin-out activity stemming from British universities.

Potential trade partners seeking to deepen ties with the UK are acutely aware of its market sophistication, particularly in real estate. In 2021, the UAE pledged to expand investment in the UK through a five-year ‘sovereign investment partnership’ worth over £10bn, with an initial commitment to invest £800m in the UK’s life sciences sector by way of Abu Dhabi’s state fund Mubadala. This is the biggest foreign greenfield investment received in the current parliament, adding fire to a blossoming relationship with the Gulf Co- operation Council that already accounts for nearly nine-tenths of the UK’s trade with the Middle East as a whole.

Key to the Arc’s success in attracting global capital has been clustering, or the co-location of the businesses, academic institutions and public bodies that make up an industry within a relatively short distance of one another. This triple helix of innovation is the product of almost a millennium of measured growth of, and relationship-building across, the institutions which make up the region’s knowledge economy.

The communities central to the Arc are among the fastest-maturing technological hubs in the country. Milton Keynes is consistently ranked by the Centre for Economics and Business Research as one of the most rapidly growing towns for IT and digital services in the UK, while Luton has carved out a pioneering role in advanced aviation engineering.

To attract foreign investment, people with experience of international markets – that understand their nuances, priorities and business etiquette – must play a key role. While much has been made of the traditional pull factors for FDI, the importance of prioritising social as well as economic returns needs to be elevated.

Supporting Ocean Generation

For 53 days, we tracked and watched the  Entrepreneur Ship in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge move through the Atlantic Ocean powered by the rowing skills of Guy Rigby and David Murray. They now hold the world record for the oldest pair to row any ocean. During the journey, the team entertained us with videos of near misses with tankers, strange sea birds and the horrendous amount of plastic pollution they encountered, creating problems for future generations. 

When asked to vote for their nominated charity, 53% of the staff at Chestertons, the London-based real estate agents, voted to support a charity focused on tackling ocean pollution. As a result, Salah Mussa, Chairman of the Chestertons Foundation, organised a substantial donation to the Ocean Generation charity.

Designed to connect participants to ocean threats, Ocean Generation’s Ocean Academy provides the education and tools for young people to protect the ocean. From the generous bequest from Chestertons Foundation to Ocean Generation, they will educate 40,000 young people on the importance of our oceans and what can be done to safeguard them. Hopefully, the next generation of Atlantic rowers will see the difference. Guy and David are raising money for UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs. You can donate to the Entrepreneur Ship via

Three Years Of First Response

Chestertons and St Mungo’s are celebrating three years of the Chestertons Foundation funded outreach service First Response. The programme currently has over 50 volunteers devoting their spare time to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping during the Covid-19 crisis, and the team has recruited over 260 volunteers since it began in 2018.

First Response works by recruiting and training volunteers to work alongside Streetlink – the national rough sleeping referral service – and St Mungo’s London outreach teams to find people who are sleeping rough. As one of the largest providers of outreach services in the country, St Mungo’s has supported over 4,000 people to isolate safely since the pandemic began.

The volunteers help these efforts by locating people or checking areas where members of the public say they have seen someone sleeping outside, and then letting St Mungo’s dedicated outreach teams know if they need to respond, or if that person cannot be found.

Typically, over 74% of these public referrals are not found, meaning that specialist outreach workers’ time is often spent checking empty sites. Thanks to the efforts of First Response volunteers filtering out these referrals, St Mungo’s specialist outreach workers are able to use their time more effectively, ensuring as many people as possible can be supported. In the past three years, First Response volunteers have dedicated over 5,500 hours to locating people sleeping rough across the capital – the equivalent of approximately 1,380 outreach team shifts.

Mathilde Dupouy, St Mungo’s First Response Coordinator, said: “First Response has made a huge difference over the last three years and wouldn’t have been possible without support from Chestertons and the Chestertons Foundation. Our fantastic First Response volunteers have spent hours searching the streets looking for vulnerable people sleeping rough across London to make sure they are supported. Their incredible contribution means that our outreach teams can dedicate more time to offering people routes out of homelessness and towards recovery, including helping them to access support services and emergency accommodation during the pandemic.”

Salah Mussa, Chairman of the Chestertons Foundation, said: “The Chestertons Foundation is delighted to support St Mungo’s innovative approach to reaching more people who are rough sleeping across London. We are incredibly proud and grateful to all the staff and volunteers that have put themselves on the frontline during the Covid-19 crisis to support people experiencing homelessness – selfless acts that have without doubt saved countless lives.”

The partnership between St Mungo’s and Chestertons played an integral role in the emergency response to the outbreak of Covid-19. Despite being restricted in what they have been able to do on the streets during the pandemic, volunteers switched from helping search for people sleeping rough, to supporting St Mungo’s staff in the emergency hotels, which were used to accommodate people who had been rough sleeping so they could safely isolate from the virus. Between 24 March and 4 December 2020, volunteers completed a total of 791 hours in our emergency hotels.

Rumbi, a Rapid Intervention Worker for Westminster Outreach Team, said: “I started working with First Response volunteers over a year ago and the volunteers really help me in my work… Instead of having to look for all the referrals, we delegate some to our First Responders who then provide us with the outcome for each referral they check. It’s a big deal for volunteers to give up their time, and I really commend them all.”

Dominic Olins, a First Response volunteer since 2019 who also helped clients in emergency hotel accommodation during Covid-19, said: “Volunteering with First Response is a great experience because you feel like you’re making a valuable contribution and your efforts have tangible results… As volunteers, we’re there to respond to a need and increase efficiency, so we must be able to go with the flow. If you are thinking about volunteering with First Response, I would say definitely do it!”

The First Response programme is currently operating in the London boroughs of Westminster and Tower Hamlets. If you would like to get involved and see opportunities available, please visit:

Mercantile Group Chair Salah Mussa Private Donation To St Mungo’s Recovery College Tackling Homelessness Through Upskilling

Salah Mussa, chair of global real estate conglomerate Mercantile Group and the Chestertons Foundation, has made a generous donation to leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s.

Continue reading “Mercantile Group Chair Salah Mussa Private Donation To St Mungo’s Recovery College Tackling Homelessness Through Upskilling”

Chestertons Foundation inaugural dinner raises £80,000 for two of London’s leading homelessness charities, St Mungo’s and The Passage

  • The Chestertons Foundation, the charitable arm of leading British estate agency Chestertons, has raised £80,000 for two of London’s leading homelessness charities at its inaugural dinner.
  • the dinner’s Guest of Honour, Lynn Cooper, High Sheriff of Greater London spoke in support of St Mungo’s and The Passage.
  • The donations come at a time where rough sleeping in the capital is rising, with 26% more people recorded as living on the streets this summer compared with last year.
Continue reading “Chestertons Foundation inaugural dinner raises £80,000 for two of London’s leading homelessness charities, St Mungo’s and The Passage”