Whether its seeking investment, building connections or soaking up the latest innovation, Engage Invest Exploit, (EiE amongst friends), is firmly Scotland’s leading tech investor conference. Amongst an exclusive group of global tech conferences like Slush in Helsinki and Web Summit in Lisbon, Scottish tech companies recognise EiE is alive with investment opportunities. Attracting the great and good from Scotland’s tech ecosystem, 60 of Scotland’s emerging tech leaders passionately pitched their hearts out to investors that included the likes of DFJ, Baillie Gifford and Accelerated Digital Ventures.
A noticeable thread amongst this year’s presentations was the use of data science amongst the product pitches, which included common data processing techniques like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Gathering and Data Visualisation. The value of focusing on developing around data was emphasised throughout Steve Jurveston’s encapsulating EiE presentation. Steve, the founder and managing director of Venture Capital firm Draper Fisher Jurveston (DFJ), pointed out that for those of us young enough to remember, Neural Networks is the 1980’s speak for today’s Deep Learning.
An enthusiastic rocket hobbyist and fan for all things Space, Steve highlighted that spacecraft development costs are rapidly falling. Combined with the demand for advancements in sensor technologies like LIDAR (also used in autonomous vehicles), Space Tech has attracted a range of active investors. With Scotland accounting for 18% of all jobs in the UK space industry, Glasgow is emerging as the space design capital of the UK. And with the Scottish Space School and Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications (SoXSA), based out of Strathclyde University, Glasgow can claim to support three Space design companies; Clyde Space, Alba Orbital and Spire Global, the San-Francisco based satellite and data company who pitched for investment at EiE17. One thing you can’t fault a Space sector company is thinking BIG.
Duncan Logan’s advice to Scottish startups at EiE: “Ask for more money, double your speed and think bigger” which was echoed in his EiE17 tweet, “#boldlygo!”. Amongst the global tech ecosystem, Duncan has designed RocketSpace into one of the leading global tech campuses and accelerators, having successfully incubated the likes of Uber, Leap Motion and Podio. Securing $336m of their own investment in 2016, RocketSpace is expanding its corporate innovation and accelerators internationally, including London which opens this May.
Duncan’s advice for companies seeking to expand their sales internationally; first focus going Stateside then think of Asia. As SME’s grow their domestic sales revenues, tech SME’s become a Start-Up all over again when they expand their business internationally. Overcoming the challenges associated with trading in new markets emphasises the need to build global connections alongside the other entrepreneurial duties of raising investment, product development and staff retention.
Scottish Enterprise chairman Bob Keiller’s insight for the EiE audience was to treat each business operation (investment, staffing, finance, marketing etc) like a sales pipeline. Maintaining focus on all elements of the business, demonstrates to an investor that you are serious on building a real business, a business that can scale.
After ten years, EiE is firmly a key highlight on Scotland’s tech conference calendar, alongside the likes of Turing Fest and ScotSoft. Congratulations go out to all the tech companies who pitched at EiE17 including Urbantide who were successful in securing the Spirit of EiE award and Amiqus who won the EiE Pitch of the Day award.
Alisdair Gunn, a strategic advisor to legaltech business Amiqus and tech accelerator Seed Haus, is the Director of Framewire, a technology consultancy helping organisations deliver growth through business transformation, digital strategy, partnering, technology and investment.