“The services of Unicus and Specialisterren complement each other perfectly. With this transaction, both companies will strengthen their product offering in, RPA, Business Intelligence, data science, software testing and – development,”
Lars Johansson-Kjellerød, founder and CEO of Unicus.
Utrecht/Oslo, September 30, 2021 – Social enterprise and IT service provider Specialisterren, specialized in software testing and Robotic Process Automation (RPA), will collaborate intensively with the Norwegian Social Enterprise Unicus, specialized in Datascience, Software Development and Quality assurance/Testing. Unicus will participate as a shareholder in Specialisterren. Both companies see the unique qualities of people with autism and combine the provision of high-quality IT services with solving a social challenge. By joining forces, the range of services will be expanded and even more people with autism will get a permanent job.
Specialisterren has created around hundred jobs during the past 13 years and currently employs fifty people with autism as testers and other IT professionals. Due to the intensive collaboration with Unicus, this number is expected to increase to 75 in 2022. “Everything is right about this collaboration and that is very special. We are extremely grateful to DOEN Participaties, our investor from the very beginning, for helping to make this step possible”, says Sjoerd van der Maaden. “We share the same mission, vision and business management with Unicus, and above all the desire to allow people with autism who until recently had no work to flourish in IT.”
“The services of Unicus and Specialisterren complement each other perfectly. With this transaction, both companies will strengthen their product offering in, RPA, Business Intelligence, data science, software testing and – development,” says Lars Johansson-Kjellerød, founder and CEO of Unicus. “It is a valuable addition for our customers and (future) employees because the combined customer base and the expansion of the service offering creates even more jobs for people with autism.”
Autism friendly environment
Working conditions often have to be adapted to become an autism friendly environment that make the employees flourish and show their full potential. When all stress factors have been removed, the employees often excel. They have an eye for detail, and analytic mindset and are very thorough. Both Specialisterren and Unicus offer tailor-made solutions to ensure an autism friendly working environment. In order to do the best for the testers and engineers there are always several people trained on a project. Special test leads and coaches are employed who are responsible for guiding people and projects.
Social enterprises are indeed interesting for investors
Now that Unicus is taking an interest in Specialisterren, DOEN Participaties is transferring its shares and is exiting the company completely. DOEN has been involved since Specialisterren was founded in 2010. A grant and loan were converted into an equity interest in 2017.
“DOEN contributed with great passion to the growth in the first phase. We are therefore incredibly proud that we can hand over the baton and expect that the company will grow
even bigger in the future through the European collaboration!”, says Beau-Anne Chilla, Impact Investment Manager DOEN Participaties: ”Our exit from Specialisterren shows that it is possible to grow social enterprises stably and sell with positive returns, we hope this will inspire more investors to get into social enterprises as well.”
Specialisterren was founded by Sjoerd van der Maaden. When he sailed around the world with his family for a year, he saw how well his son with autism was developing. By removing all the stress factors, the boy’s talents suddenly came into their own. This insight led to the creation of Specialisterren in 2010: an IT company specialized in providing software and RPA services. The company now employs 63 people and a minimum of eighty percent of its turnover is realized by working with people with autism. By offering autism friendly working conditions, career guidance and a permanent contract, the employees can flourish and build a solid future. Specialisterren offers employees with autism a steady job, with an above modal salary. A considerable number of employees have a long standing career with Specialisterren. Specialisterren provides services to Schiphol airport, multiple Fintech companies, national Dutch police IT and De Nederlandse Bank, among others. For more information, see www.specialisterren.nl
Unicus was founded in 2008 by Lars Johansson-Kjellerød, with the vision of a better and more inclusive world for people with Autism built on the individual`s strengths. Unicus is an IT company specialized in services within Datascience, Software development, Quality Assurance and Software testing and today operates in Norway, Sweden and Finland, with many of the Nordic countries` largest companies on their customer list. Ferd is the majority shareholder in Unicus. Ferd is owned by Johan H. Andresen with family, and is an Norwegian investment company with a strong commitment to social entrepreneurship and is one of the pioneers within Nordic Social Impact Investing.
For more information, see www.Unicus.com
About DOEN Participations
DOEN Participaties has been investing in innovative, sustainable and social start-ups for more than 25 years. DOEN Participaties has the ambition to make the world greener and more social. That is why impact is central to all investments. DOEN Participaties invests in the early phase of companies and dares to take risks. DOEN Participaties is fully owned and managed by the DOEN Foundation. The DOEN Foundation was set up by the National Postcode Lottery to support innovative initiatives. For more information, see http://www.doenparticipations.nl