Engage Invest Exploit (EIE)- Case Study
Supported by Scottish Enterprise & based in Edinburgh University’s, School of Informatics. Informatics Ventures delivers Engage Invest Exploit (EIE), a tech entrepreneur investor readiness programme for 50+ entrepreneurial start-ups to instil the knowledge and ambition to grow global businesses from Scotland.
The high-point is the EIE conference, an international corporate event, held annually in Edinburgh since 2008, which attracts a global audience of over 950 investors & 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, has helped >370 companies attract >£650m investment.
In what ways is your business event unique to Scotland?
EIE is an internationally respected showcase of tech talent and passion, a brilliant selection of mainly Scotland-based start-ups born in the burgeoning digital ecosystem of Edinburgh City Region. Unique in Scotland’s tech ecosystem, it’s the largest event of its kind outside London boasting tech entrepreneurs pitching for investment, international keynotes like Sir Jackie Stewart, 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.
We recently formed a partnership with Data-Driven Innovation Initiative (ddi.ac.uk) with the backing 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 supporting established tech businesses to seek investment and drive significant wealth creation and economic impact for Scotland.
EIE is logistically demanding, froma selection of 50+ participating companies, to training and mentoring them all to participate in the event itself. Scotland is undoubtedly an entrepreneurial nation capable of building world class, global tech businesses. Many have pitched at EIE and attracted significant investment through relationships initiated at this event. Working with a variety of venues, caterers and event delivery, EIE has an international reputation as a world-class and well-curated programme.
Established in 2008, EIE was underwritten mainly by Scottish Enterprise until 2017 when it became self-financing. Since then corporate sponsorship has risen >260% to >£200,000 and ticket/tables sales risen significantly such that EIE is now not only self-financing, EIE 2019 returned a significant surplus which can be re-invested for the benefit of the programme and the company cohort in 2020 and beyond.
Tell us about the impact and outcomes your business event generates for the area or location in which it takes place.
“If you want to know what’s happening in Scotland, you have to come to EIE.”
Since 2008, Scotland has attracted the attention of technology investors because of EIE. The conference now welcomes >950 delegates, of which 250-300 are global investors, into Edinburgh and showcases the best tech investment opportunities across Scotland. 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.
EIE 2019 is the latest incarnation of the tech investor showcase which has emerged out of the University of Edinburgh but which has helped to fund the innovations originating from all over Scotland while firmly pointing the spotlight on Scotland as a hub for innovation and progress. 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.
With European and Scottish Enterprise funding EIE initially, it is now fully self-sustaining, underpinned as it is by significant corporate sponsorship, ticket sales and table sales. Indeed in 2019, EIE returned a significant surplus to support sustainability and the 2020 programme.
EIE started life in 2008 with just 50 or so delegates. By 2019 EIE welcomed >950 delegates to Edinburgh University’s recently renovated and repurposed McEwan Hall & the City which, in terms of economic impact, generated >£991,000 for the local economy (Marketing Edinburgh) and, since 2008, around £650 million in investment for companies pitching.
As EIE continues to evolve, it will help ensure that Edinburgh becomes the Data Capital of Europe and that Scotland is seen on the global stage as a pioneer and innovator in digital technology.
What has your business event achieved, and what will be the real legacy and ultimate ’leave behind’ to make it worthy of this award?
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.”
By enabling connections to investors many companies, like Appointedd, remain and grow in Scotland, and others are being persuaded to relocate here.
Similarly with sponsors:
“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.”
EIE is a showcase for Scotland’s most innovative tech companies and we are constant innovators of the programme…from manual ticketing, we now deploy a state-of-the-art event management system, Cvent, and we constantly innovate format, programme etc.
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.