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Joing the Dots


Bostjan Skalar paints a picture of the interconnected
system in which IPAs, entrepreneurs, and Angel Investors
co-operate for ecosystem prosperity.

What is the role of Investment Promotion Agencies and WAIPA?

Usually IPAs are the faces of governments or regions. In short, they play various important roles in attracting foreign direct investments but also in promoting a country or a region. We as WAIPA are their umbrella organisation, advocating for them, making their voice heard to policy makers and global institutions. Therefore, we are happy to have such a strong Consultative Committee consisting of UNCTAD, UNIDO, ILO, ICC, IEDC, OEDC and the World Bank. But we also work with a number of strategic partners such as WBAF and the World Economic Forum, to truly collect as many voices as possible for the benefit of our 170 member agencies from 130 countries.

Where is the connection between FDI and entrepreneurship?

In fact, there is a strong correlation. When we look at the Global Value Chain or technical spill overs that can result through FDI, then we see that local enterprises can benefit enormously. The linkages and growth created through these investments can leapfrog countries forward. Consider industry 4.0 for example, there are huge opportunities. FDI is not only affecting MNEs but of course SMEs and even startups.

How can IPAs work together with startups and Angel Investors?

Our world is globalizing. Especially for the younger generation this feels natural already. They have the vision to create products for today’s world. Whether it is a tech startup or any other kind of startup, they need support that on the one hand creates a structured and long-term plan, which is IPAs; and on the other hand they need mentoring and people who can discover them and who put their trust in them, these are the Angel Investors. Needless to say, the better an IPA is functioning, the more they can assist in overcoming issues and blockages.

So, for us as WAIPA it is crucial to work with WBAF, to be closely in touch with entrepreneurs and Angel Investors to understand the changing dynamics at play in early stage investing. We want to ensure we enable IPAs to be more creative, to standout and offer new investment opportunities; and we already see that a lot is being done. For example, I can highlight the recently established partnership between WAIPA Vice President, the Dubai FDI, and the Boston-based non-profit startup accelerator MassChallenge. This partnership will grow projects that attract startups and investments to Dubai and the UAE.

“For us as WAIPA it is
crucial to be closely in
touch with entrepreneurs
and Angel Investors.”

Dubai FDI are utilizing their crosssector network to identify potential startups suited for Dubai. A good example of visionary IPAs who realise the need to work with startups and Angel Investors, but there is a lot of room for improvement by many IPAs.

What is your advice for IPAs and startups?

First, IPAs have to be open and flexible; they should ideally be empowered and have a clear division of roles and responsibilities. Our role is partly also to provide IPAs with the necessary skills in an ever changing and dynamic field to empower them. They need to have the right skill set; for this constant capacity building is essential. For this we have our Training Center in our headquarters in Istanbul and a wide variety of training sessions throughout the year, and there needs to more of a private sector mindset in these agencies. At the same time startups and their investors should know, and I am sure that many of them are already aware, that many IPAs put a huge focus on startups. An IPA can (and should) be the ideal partner. Saying this, a lot has been done in recent times, but there needs to be an increased focus on new types of investments to create more linkages, more spillovers and more growth.


WAIPA Permanent Secretariat

World Trade Center, Building A1,

8th Floor, No: 297

Yesilkoy, Istanbul, Turkey

Tel: +90 212 465 0025



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