Roundtable III

Friday 28 May, 17.30-19.00 hrs

Attracting international talent to creative knowledge regions: strategies, experiences and prospects in Europe

Round table organiser: Heike Pethe, AISSR, University of Amsterdam



Due to the globalization of the economy and Europe’s shrinking population, the attraction of transnational migrants gains importance for creative knowledge regions. At the moment, however, only a few European regions have established a targeted policy which aims to increases the inflow of transnational migrants in creative and knowledge-intensive sectors.

The round table discusses how metropolitan regions can succeed in the international “war of talent”. Which best practices exist in European city regions to manage international migration of the highly skilled? Which location factors are crucial for the attraction of international talent? How do the conditions and experiences of migrants in Eastern and Western Europe differ in this respect? The round table brings experts and transnational migrants from Eastern and Western European cities together.

The director of the first European expatcenter will explain why Amsterdam decided to set up a dedicated ‘one-stop shop’ for highly skilled migrants for the Amsterdam area. The concept of a ‘one-stop shop’ is that it processes the necessary formalities at a single institution in one turn. The managing director of “Urban Research”, a consultancy agency for population research, will give insights how the immigration policy is related to the local innovation policy in the Helsinki region.

Katherine Bedwell – a Chilean -American Architect /Designer – and the Scottish music producer Simon Smith will describe their motivations to settle in Barcelona and talk about what factors they feel are important for transnational migrants in the everyday life and creative working climate in Barcelona. Melanie Smith who is currently working a Lecturer and Researcher in Tourism, Culture and Regeneration at Corvinus University in Budapest and Anders Paalzow who has worked for ten years as the Swedish rector of Stockholm School of Economics in Riga illustrate the situation in Eastern European cities by describing the challenges and benefits to live abroad.


Overview of Participants

Amsterdam:      Pauline Genee (Director of Expatcenter Amsterdam)

Barcelona:        Simon Smith (Scottish independent music producer and media composer);
Katherine Bedwell (Chilean-American Architect & Designer )

Budapest:         Melanie Smith (English Lecturer and Researcher ).

Helsinki:           Seppo Laakso (Managing Director of Urban Research TA Ltd )

Riga:                 Anders Paalzow (Swedish rector of the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga)


Introduction of the participants

Katherine Bedwell

She is a Chilean-American Architect & Designer. Katherine went to undergraduate School in NY and continued her graduate studies in Barcelona. She's been living in Catalonia since 1996. Her main motivation to move to Barcelona was a personal one, but the fact that the city promised interesting professional opportunities within the fields of both architecture and design, in addition to the Mediterranean culture, were all good enough reasons to leave the US to start up a new life in Barcelona. Her stay/experience is a positive one with the exception of her Degree recognition, which she’s still trying resolved after all these years. “If I had known how difficult and eternal this process was going to be, I can assure you I would have not settled here in Spain”.


Pauline Genee

Pauline Genee is the Director of the Expatcenter Amsterdam. She set up the office in 2008. The Expatcenter is part of the programme “Amsterdam Topstad” – a program set up by the City Council aimed at getting Amsterdam back in the Top 5 European Investment Cities – and keeping it there. Expat service has been one of the main items of this program.


Seppo Laasko

Seppo Laakso is managing director in Urban Research, a small Helsinki based expert firm. He is specialized in urban and regional development issues, including population and migration analysis and the problems of international migration. A special analysis on the foreign population in the Helsinki region, including projections for the future, was carried out recently.


Anders Paalzow

Anders Paalzow who was educated in Stockholm serves as Rector at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga (SSE Riga). His research interests cover macroeconomics, public economics, financial economics, and regional development. As part of the ACRE-research team in Riga, he investigated the situation of transnational migrants in Riga.


Melanie Smith

Melanie Smith is a Lecturer and Researcher in Tourism, Culture and Regeneration who is currently working at Corvinus University in Budapest, Hungary.

She came to Budapest on a sabbatical from the University of Greenwichin London to spend six months with her Hungarian boyfriend (now husband). This was 5 years ago and she has not returned to England and has no plans to do so! She now has two little boys aged 4 and 6 months.


Simon Smith

Simon Smith works as an independent music producer and media composer in Barcelona, previously living in London. He moved with his wife to Barcelona in 2002 primarily for personal and lifestyle reasons but was also attracted by the creative scene in the city. Having established himself as a self employed composer under the name of Bcnsound, he now creates music and sound design for film, television, adverts and online campaigns, working with the many creative design and branding agencies here, with clients that include Mango, Vodafone and Volkswagen. He also works in music production, working with many independent artists and bands such as Ojos de Brujo. He is also currently shooting and editing a musical documentary with a team of other transnational migrants, exploring 21st century cross-cultural identities from the point of view of musicians, especially focusing on the Mediterranean and Magrebi region around Spain and Morocco.