EIE21 showcasing tech’s rising stars

On June 10, 35 companies will be pitching at EIE21 which brings together companies that are, through technological innovation, pushing boundaries in their respective industries.
Picture: EIEPicture: EIE
Picture: EIE

Here we focus on three of those companies companies, appearing at the event on June 10, that have been highlighted by the conference’s organisers as companies to watch.

They are firms whose technology and ideas have the potential to transform the sectors they operate and they could be leading employers in Scotland in the future.

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EIE – which stands for Engage Invest Exploit – will see company founders pitch for investment.

Co-founder and CEO of Net AI Dr Paul PatrasCo-founder and CEO of Net AI Dr Paul Patras
Co-founder and CEO of Net AI Dr Paul Patras

EIE21, is a year-round programme highlighted by the day of pitching, and is run by the University of Edinburgh’s Bayes Centre in partnership with the DDI (Data-Driven Innovation) initiative and supported by Scottish Enterprise.

A total of 25 companies will be making a three-minute pitch to investors with ten companies, including the three detailed below, chosen to give extended presentations to investors.

The investor panel includes Scottish Equity Partners’ Stuart Paterson, Silicon Valley Bank’s Flavia Popescu-Richardson, and Old College Capital’s Andrea Young.


CEO and Co-Founder of Earth Blox Dr. Genevieve PatenaudeCEO and Co-Founder of Earth Blox Dr. Genevieve Patenaude
CEO and Co-Founder of Earth Blox Dr. Genevieve Patenaude

If data is the new oil, then 5G is the pipeline fuelling the next phase of our industrial and societal evolution.

However, like its black gold equivalent, it can be volatile and needs a refinery function so that huge data streams can be distilled down and its constituent parts analysed.

That's where Net AI comes in through their Microscope technology which analyses large volumes of network traffic, breaks them down into different applications they encompass and allows network operators to make decisions on where to allocate computing power.

Co-founder and CEO of Net AI, Dr Paul Patras, said that much of the hardware that powers our mobile infrastructure was shifting to the cloud.

Head of communications and public affairs at TranSwap Janice LiuHead of communications and public affairs at TranSwap Janice Liu
Head of communications and public affairs at TranSwap Janice Liu
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This shift, he said, presented cost and resource challenges for operators in how they deal with increases in mobile traffic.

Paul said: "5G is not just providing a higher data rate, it is the driver for new services such as autonomous cars and industrial automation.

"All of these services have distinct requirements and to meet these requirements operators need to adopt a software-based architecture.

"They need to have real time knowledge of what is happening on their networks to ensure that customers are happy with the quality of the service they are receiving.

"This is where Net AI comes in and tries to be one of the many pieces of the 5G puzzle."

The Net AI CEO said that the company's Microscope solution would primarily appeal to networks but that it could also be utilised by the myriad of companies that feed into their supply chains.

Paul also added that professional services companies, such as Accenture and Deloitte, may also find use for the product pointing to the cross-over between mobile data and the automation of various processes, business intelligence, or advertising.

He said: "If you have a post code where a particular game is popular then a media company could serve electronic billboards to this particular area, without infringing user privacy."

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The Net AI co-founder said that taking part in EIE21 would give the company valuable exposure to potential investors and future customers.

"EIE is great for us because it gives us additional exposure to both potential large customers in the telecom space and mobile operators, he said.

"We are close to the first round of investment but we are also looking ahead and want to be on the radar of investors who may be interested in the next round.

"EIE organisers have a vast network of contacts and partners for potential investment which has been very helpful."


Put simply, Earth Blox is like LEGO for Earth observation (EO) and satellite data analytics.

The Edinburgh-based company, which started trading in May 2020, offers a Software as a Software (SaaS) that empowers anyone, anywhere to DIY their own Earth Observation and satellite data solutions.

Earth Blox provides cloud access to petabytes of data (20 Petabytes equals more than 30 million CD ROMS) and computing power, without the need for expertise or coding skills.

Dr. Genevieve Patenaude, CEO and Co-Founder of Earth Blox, said:

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"There are massive barriers to entry in accessing Earth Observation intelligence. You need advanced coding skills, a higher education degree in Earth Observation, large storage and bandwidth as well as knowledge of where & how to find the data. Without these, you need a really large budget to outsource those skills (+£100k). We are removing those barriers.

Earth Blox is already being used in a number of sectors including insurance, disaster, and conflict management.

Phil Cottle, Head Underwriter at Globe Underwriting and a customer of Earth Blox, said: “We offer insurance for a number of named perils. We use Earth Blox daily: besides significantly increasing confidence in our risk pricing, the process is 95% faster.”

Genevieve said: “Earth Blox will also help 130 in-country United Nations teams effectively respond to climate-related conflict risks.

“Millions worldwide are displaced annually due to conflicts. By empowering UN teams worldwide in the use of advanced satellite data analytics, Earth Blox improves capacity for prevention, preparedness and response to climate, environment and conflict risks, improving the lives of millions living in vulnerable countries.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) currently relies on lengthy 3rd party report production. These take months to deliver. Earth Blox will reduce their costs by more than 80%, and speed delivery of essential intelligence from months to near real time.

Earth Blox, which has grown out of the University of Edinburgh, is now a Google Partner. Genevieve said: "The relationship we have with Google is a big plus, we have regular monthly meetings with them. For them (as data supplier), Earth Blox increases their reach by opening up new markets.’’

Genevieve said gaining further investment from EIE21 will spearhead the company's growth.

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"Even though we have a solid runway, we are looking to accelerate. For this, we need investment. EIE will add to our existing network of potential investors."


The shift to e-commerce is only accelerating and with this speed comes opportunity however those venturing outside their home markets soon encounter barriers when it comes to international payments.

TranSwap is well positioned to tap into this growth in online sales and help businesses to trade internationally and facilitate cross border transactions through payments, FX, digital wallets, and a suite of financial products.

The Fintech, which started trading in Singapore in 2017, landed in Edinburgh following a trade delegation organised by Scottish Development International and the Department for International Trade.

TranSwap equips businesses with all the tools to trade internationally and also offers a white label service that companies can use to customise their own platforms.

The firm will use their Edinburgh office, which employs seven people so far, to lead their global market expansion strategy starting with the rest of the UK and European Union. Their global innovation hub will also be based here in Edinburgh, tapping into leading-edge research in Scottish universities.

Janice Liu, head of communications and public affairs at TranSwap, said: "Our CEO and co-founder Benjamin Wong was fascinated by the vibrant fintech sector in Edinburgh and liked that the city had a lot of the major market players based there.

"He was also impressed by the tech talent available in the city and the research and development capabilities provided by the universities.”

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TranSwap says going through the process with EIE has helped the company focus on the next steps they need to take to grow their UK business.

Janice said: "EIE has been useful for us in terms of sharpening our pitches and helping us to think about our business strategy in the UK.

"We have benefitted from the expert advice on offer which has been like a free mentorship programme and helped us to focus on what we can do now to be successful in the future."

EIE has supported more than 500 tech start-ups since 2008 who have collectively raised around £750 million. Alumnus companies include Current Health, FanDuel, Celtic Renewables, Amiqus, Two Big Ears, and PureLiFi – and the keynote speaker line-up for this year’s event will be unveiled later this month.

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