Controversial Chinese telecoms giant backs Scotland’s top tech investor event

Huawei, the controversial Chinese telecoms giant, has been confirmed as a sponsor of Scotland’s top technology investor conference.

Michael Rovatsos of Bayes Centre and Neil Norman of Chiene + Tait. Picture: Stewart Attwood

The company is once again giving its backing to EIE21, a virtual event which will see company founders pitch for investment from seed level to more than £2 million on June 10.

Huawei Technologies is one of the event’s sponsors, along with the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics, which established the EIE annual event in 2008, Royal Bank of Scotland, start-up recruitment agency TalentSpark, intellectual property specialist Murgitroyd, commercial law firm MBM, national angel investor association Linc Scotland and chartered accountancy firm Chiene + Tait.

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Huawei has faced allegations that its wireless networking equipment could contain backdoors enabling surveillance by the Chinese government. The UK government has announced a series of measures to remove the Chinese phone-maker from the country’s 5G mobile networks.

EIE, which is run by the University of Edinburgh’s Bayes Centre in partnership with the DDI (Data-Driven Innovation) initiative and supported by Scottish Enterprise, is a year-round programme highlighted by a day of pitching to investors from across the globe.

The event has supported more than 500 tech start-ups since 2008 which have collectively raised some £750 million from seed through to series A and later stage funding – with Current Health, FanDuel, Celtic Renewables, Amiqus, Two Big Ears, Speech Graphics, pureLiFi and mLed among EIE alumnus companies.

Victor Zhang, director of Huawei Edinburgh Research Centre, said: “We’re delighted to sponsor EIE for a third year to help underline the strength of innovation and how it can improve people’s lives. We look forward to engaging with other like-minded innovative technology companies and crucially, connecting with local people.”

Neil Norman, senior tax partner at Chiene + Tait, said: “We jumped at the opportunity to support EIE21 this year, as a firm we’ve attended EIE through the years, know the team well, and have always been impressed by the quality of the companies pitching, the range of investors in attendance and the input of the wider advisory community.”

Steve Ewing, director of entrepreneurship at Bayes Centre and EIE21 lead, added: “EIE would not achieve such high standards without the support of our sponsors from the corporate sector and we have a strong mix of international, UK and Scotland-based companies this year who have technology and innovation in their DNA.”

Last month, the Bayes Centre named the 32 firms for this year’s event, which will be delivered in a virtual format this year amid the pandemic.

The sector categories for EIE21 are: AI and Data Science; Energy, Climate and Cleantech; Digital Health and Medtech; Fintech and Cybersecurity; Smart Cities and Mobility; Robotics and Autonomy; Internet of Things; and Creative Design and Media Tech.

Featured companies include: satellite data specialist Earth Blox; OnGen, a tech platform that helps companies cut energy costs and carbon emissions; University of Edinburgh spin-out Net AI, whose AI-driven analytics aim to revolutionise the management of virtual mobile networks; and Oceanium, a start-up developing sustainably-farmed seaweed into plant-based foods and packaging.

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