Birmingham advisers work on classroom tech investment deal

Birmingham-based Cattaneo Corporate Finance has advised Avantis Systems, the educational virtual reality business, on a £4.25m private equity investment from Key Capital Partners.

Founded in 2007 by CEO Nik Tuson, Gloucester-based Avantis provides technology solutions in the classroom. In 2017 it launched ClassVR, a system of hardware, software and content that enables teachers to immerse their pupils in a wide variety of virtual reality experiences. Sales of ClassVR have grown rapidly in the three years since launch with over 40,000 VR headsets now deployed in more than 3,000 schools around the world, establishing it as the market leader in its field.

The deal sees KCP acquire a significant minority stake in the business, which currently employs 32 staff.

Owen Trotter, managing partner at KCP, who led the investment team alongside James Excell and Matt Tice, will join the board of Avantis, alongside CEO Nik Tuson, CTO Rupert Rawnsley and sales and marketing Director Huw Williams. Andy McEwan also joins the board as non-executive Chairman.

KCP was advised by Grant Thornton (Financial Due Diligence), Mills & Reeve (Legal) and Armstrong (Commercial Due Diligence). Avantis was advised by Cattaneo (Corporate Finance) and Greenaway Scott (Legal).

Trotter said: “The team at Avantis has done a fantastic job in creating a product which adds real value in the classroom. Our research confirmed the huge potential for the business to grow rapidly over the next few years and I look forward to working with Nik and the team to turn this into reality.”

Tuson said: “We have had phenomenal success with ClassVR and the investment from KCP will help us to firmly establish Avantis as the premier provider of VR and AR technology in the classroom. We selected KCP as our partner based on their speed of response, understanding of our ethos and their shared vision of what VR can achieve as a classroom tool.”

Martyn Pilley of Cattaneo Corporate Finance added: “We have been working with Avantis for some time, reviewing their options to create and ultimately realise shareholder value, and settled on private equity as the means to take the business to the next level and to eventually achieve an exit, likely to be to a global player in the broader education technology market.”

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