Engine B is an AI and data analytics company that seeks to streamline and improve access to data for professional services firms so that they can offer improved services to their clients.
We spoke to Andy Newnham, Ecosystem Manager at Engine B, about the company's global growth ambitions and the importance of the UK's vibrant professional services hub in underpinning that international expansion.
What does your company do?
The aim of our company is to bring new data and analytic solutions to professional services firms to make them more streamlined and to make it much easier for them to get data from their clients.
So, if you are an auditor and you are auditing a large multinational, your basic process at the moment involves getting various files from them in different formats. You then spend quite a lot of time getting that data into a format you can use. What our technology does is pulls that data directly from the client and gives it straight to you in a standardised way every time.
We are partnered with Microsoft globally and they have a tech team out in the US that works with us to create what we call 'common data models'. These allow you to see data in a common format time after time no matter what system your client is using. We can do that from financial data but also from text like contracts, invoices or leases.
One of our shareholders is the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), the main audit membership body in the UK, and we also have funding from the UK government through Innovate UK to help fund initial R&D at Engine B.
Tell us about your UK and global operations.
There are about 18 of us in the company at the moment and our first product will be live in the summer of this year. We are just doing a bunch of pilots at the moment.
All of our permanent staff are based in the UK. We have two geographical hubs – London and Glasgow. The company was set up to work remotely so we don't have an office in either city at the moment but we may well do in coming months as things open up again.
We will have a presence in the US in the next 6 to 12 months and we have projects going on with different clients in organisations across the UK, the US, Europe, South America, Australia and Singapore.
Personally, I'm based in the Midlands in the UK and have worked a lot of my professional life in Birmingham. Cities like London, Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol are really good for us as you have got such a broad professional services sector and they've been really good for relationship development
What are the main benefits to being based in the UK?
The UK is one of the main global hubs for professional services so it made sense that we were based here, particularly given the two founders of Engine B are both based in the UK, even though they have worked all over the globe. Most of the firms that we work with at the moment are multinational professional services firms and we've worked with people we've known in the UK and they've introduced us to people in other parts of the globe. So we can build a relationship locally and they can advocate for us internally and we can move into other markets as well.
The talent pool here in the UK - be they fresh graduates or experienced hires – is excellent. This is important for us as it can still be challenging to hire good people. People who have the right technology skills and strategic and softer skills are easier to find in the UK than they would be elsewhere. Quite a lot of the universities in the UK are now blending analytics and different computer science type skills in with business, humanities and social science courses which is really good.
Personally, I'm based in the Midlands in the UK and have worked a lot of my professional life in Birmingham. Cities like London, Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol are really good for us as you have got such a broad professional services sector and they've been really good for relationship development.
People who have the right technology skills and strategic and softer skills are easier to find in the UK than they would be elsewhere. Quite a lot of the universities in the UK are now blending analytics and different computer science type skills in with business, humanities and social science courses which is really good
Tell us about your company's growth ambitions.
We are designing our products for mass adoption so over the next 12 to 24 months we hope to see our products widely used through the majority of the largest audit firms but also at smaller ones as well. That will be the UK first most likely but we have several ongoing projects with US firms so we will grow there too. By the time we get to the second half of next year we hope to be truly global in having presence in a number of markets helped by the partnership we have with Microsoft.
As we go forward we will be creating hubs in various UK cities and places across the world where we can interact with businesses. There is something to be said to having a physical presence where we can introduce the technology we are using to those who might benefit from it. We expect headcount to roughly double in the next year or so.