Engage Invest Exploit (EIE) is a technology investor showcase, which takes place at the University of Edinburgh’s Bayes Centre and features data-driven tech companies seeking investment from seed to series A.

Dr Steve Ewing, Director of Entrepreneurship at the Bayes Centre discusses the inspiration behind the event and how the programme has adapted for its 2021 event.

EIE21 virtual auditorium

Picture of the auditorium for this year’s EIE21 event on the virtual platform 6Connex.

What was inspired you to create Engage Invest Exploit (EIE)?

The event was conceived back in 2007 and was initially funded by the European Regional Development Fund. Its remit then, as it still is now, is to connect young, ambitious technology entrepreneurs with sources of investment.

At the time of launch, it was recognised that innovation and commercialisation are key drivers of productivity and competitiveness, particularly in an increasingly interconnected global economy’ and that EIE’s remit could help to invigorate that.

EIE was at the genesis of the tech ecosystem here in Scotland and remains very much at its heart.

How has the event grown since you started the event in 2008?

The first event in 2008 welcomed 16 companies and 64 attendees, a quarter of whom were investors. In 2019, at our last in-person event, EIE boasted a 50 strong cohort of companies participating in a four-month long investor readiness programme and pitching to over 950 investor and business guest attendees.

EIE is now funded by the University of Edinburgh and delivered by the Bayes Centre in partnership with the DDI (Data Driven Innovation) programme and has grown from being an annual event to a full-blown training programme, which is delivered by a host of external expert partners, culminating in an investor showcase.

One of our regular investor attendees said, “if you want to know what’s happening in Scotland, you have to come to EIE.”

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

Have you made any changes to the format of EIE, that are reflective of the current landscape?

Last year, EIE was a hybrid programme in the sense that the initial bootcamp and some investor readiness group activities took place face to face as planned at the beginning of 2020.

Shortly after we entered lockdown in March the culminating showcase element was moved to take place virtually. To transition from physical to virtual, we dedicated a full month to researching virtual platforms and their capabilities, to ensure that we would still provide the best possible experience for our cohort and our attendees.

We are fully aware of virtual fatigue and how this has affected many of us over the past year. Having analysed data from EIE20, we have decided to significantly change the format of this year’s event. We have shortened the event programme and will run  two sessions simultaneously, to help increase attendee engagement.

Are there any notable collaborations or partnerships that have been established as a result of the EIE event?

EIE is the fruit of a collaboration over many years between the University of Edinburgh, the regional development agency, Scottish Enterprise, and its trade and foreign direct investment agency, Scottish Development International.

We also have several programme and ecosystem sponsors including Huawei, the University of Edinburgh School of Informatics, Scottish Enterprise, Chiene + Tait, LINC Scotland, MBM Commercial, Murgitroyd, Royal Bank of Scotland and Talent Spark. EIE also has VisitScotland as its delivery partner.

In 2019 we forged a partnership with Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) Initiative with the backing of the £1.3bn Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal. That partnership is now stronger, as EIE is delivered through the University of Edinburgh’s Bayes Centre in partnership with the DDI Programme. It will support the launch of more spin-out companies, attract start-ups and support established tech businesses to seek investment and drive significant wealth creation and economic impact for Scotland.

Since 2008 EIE has generated £2.8m for the local economy (Marketing Edinburgh) and more than £750m in investment has been secured by the companies pitching.

Entrepreneur success stories

Over the past 13 years of the event, we have seen some fantastic investments and success stories.

These include companies such as Current Health, providers of a universal patient management platform; Pure LiFi, the leading LiFi technology company; and satellite company Spire Global. All these businesses have secured millions of pounds in investment to accelerate their company growth.

EIE2021 will take place on 10th June 2021, to find out more visit - www.eie-invest.com