Ten years of driving tech investment

This year’s announcement of EIE’s partnership with the Data-Driven Innovation initiative was the latest development for Scotland’s tech investment showcase, which has helped over 430 companies attract around £750m investment over the last decade. Steve Ewing, Director of Entrepreneurship at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics, explains how EIE has built its global audience.

“If you want to know what’s happening in Scotland, you have to come to EIE.” So said Dr Saavas Neophytou, Partner & Head of Life Sciences at Deepbridge Capital. Supported by Scottish Enterprise and delivered by Informatics Ventures, Engage Invest Exploit (EIE) is the tech entrepreneur investor programme for over 50 entrepreneurial start-ups, aiming to instil readiness, knowledge and ambition to grow global businesses from Scotland.

The highpoint is the EIE conference, an international corporate event, held annually in Edinburgh since 2008, which attracts a global audience of over 950 investors and business guests.

Informatics Ventures and EIE were at the genesis of, and remain at the heart of, the tech ecosystem in Scotland and, since inception, have helped over 430 companies attract around £750m investment.

Unique in the burgeoning digital ecosystem of Edinburgh City Region and Scotland as a whole, EIE is the largest event of its kind outside London boasting tech entrepreneurs pitching for investment. International keynotes like Dame Stephanie Shirley and Sir Tom Hunter make it a must-attend event for an international audience.

EIE is the fruit of a collaboration between programme sponsors like Huawei, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Cazenove Capital; ecosystem partners like Converge Challenge and Entrepreneurial Scotland, our delivery partners VisitScotland, as well as the many other tech companies who participate.

In 2019, we forged a partnership with the Data-Driven Innovation initiative – part of the £1.3 billion Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal. The partnership will support the launch of more spin-out companies, attract start-ups, and support established tech businesses to seek investment and drive the improvement of products and services, and economic impact for Scotland.

EIE 2019 was the latest incarnation of the tech investor showcase which has emerged out of the University and has helped to fund the innovations originating from all over Scotland and we will continue to grow EIE to pick winners, from the 10 data-driven sectors, for the future, connect them with investors, and so grow the tech sector in Scotland.

EIE started life in 2008 with just 50 or so delegates. By 2019 EIE welcomed over 950 delegates to Edinburgh University’s McEwan Hall and the city which, in terms of economic impact, generated over £991,000 for the local economy (Marketing Edinburgh) and, since 2008, around £650 million in investment for companies pitching. This world-class activity is taking place at the heart of innovation in data science that will drive Scotland’s next economic revolution, one that represents a £20 billion opportunity to the country over the next five years.

As EIE continues to evolve, it will help ensure that the City Region becomes the data capital of Europe and that Scotland is seen on the global stage as a pioneer and innovator in digital technology.

Our clients are companies participating in, and corporate sponsors of, EIE. The following is typical of feedback received year in, year out: “EIE is the most impactful event in the Scottish tech calendar, connecting start-ups with investors from Scotland and further afield, and was instrumental in all our investment rounds.” Leah Hutcheon, CEO/Founder, Appointedd

By enabling connections to investors, many companies, like Appointedd, remain and grow in Scotland, and others are being persuaded to relocate here.

Our sponsors are aligned with this vision of strengthening Scotland’s economic strength and competitiveness: “Informatics Ventures and EIE lie at the heart of our entrepreneurial ecosystem. Its mission quite simply is to attract investment to our best high potential companies so that they can create high value tax paying jobs which are absolutely essential to our future prosperity. Over the years it has developed a high profile and highly respected brand … it is essential that we continue to build on its success.” Stuart Dearden, Entrepreneur Development Manager, Royal Bank of Scotland

Accordingly, we were nominated by ecosystem peers as the inaugural event for the 2018 and 2019 CAN DO Fest, Scotland’s Spring festival of impactful entrepreneurship. In 2019, EIE featured in 10 publications like The Scotsman, Business Quarter and Angel News in 34 articles like “Fixing the female funding gap” and “What are investors looking for in a tech startup”, reaching a potential audience in excess of 20 million.

Our legacy will be that, having made EIE financially sustainable, we are uniquely placed to continue to support and grow the ambitions and job creation of tech companies here in Scotland with the aim of helping all our citizens benefit from the data revolution.

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