Virgin Group invests in Auticon to help employ more autistic adults in the UK
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and UK charity Esmée Fairbairn Foundation are new investors in Auticon. The investment will help enable Auticon to employ more autistic adults and accelerate its growth in the UK market.
London, 20 October 2016 – Following Auticon’s recent launch in the UK, Auticon Group CEO Kurt Schöffer is delighted to announce Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and UK charity Esmée Fairbairn Foundation as new investors in Auticon.
The investment will help enable Auticon, which exclusively hires IT consultants on the autism spectrum, to accelerate its growth in the UK IT market. Originally founded in Germany in 2011, Auticon only launched its UK office in spring 2016, and is already working with UK companies on IT projects with its newly recruited consultants.
The investment by Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Group also offers Auticon a chance to promote social change in attitudes towards autism and employment. Auticon was founded on the knowledge that autistic adults often have extraordinary cognitive abilities, yet many find it difficult to secure or maintain mainstream employment.
In Germany, Auticon already employs over 70 professional IT consultants, including junior consultants and some of the country’s most talented developers, who are highly sought after for complex IT projects by over one third of the German Stock Index (DAX), including blue chip clients Siemens and Allianz.
Auticon’s Group CEO, Kurt Schöffer, said: “We are honored to have such a respected shareholder onboard. We’re excited to have Richard as one of our new investors and we look forward to continuing expanding our UK business with the support of the Virgin Group. In Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, an experienced grant funder and social investor, I am delighted to have gained an investor who brings an overview of inclusive employment in the UK.
We have been receiving hundreds of applications from adults on the autism spectrum across the UK, France and Germany to work with us at Auticon, and hope this new investment will enable us to see many more. I’m delighted to say that we already have consultants in London working on projects with British companies. We’ll be using this investment to build relationships with as many UK companies as possible.”
Auticon’s UK CEO, Ray Coyle, said: “It is great to see such renowned British investors provide the backing to enable us to build our business in the UK, based on the successful model that has been proven in the German and French markets. This will enable many more companies in the UK to tap into the strengths of autistic adults.”
Sir Richard Branson said: “Purpose is at the core of what we do at Virgin. It’s clear by the great work Auticon do they have similar values. Employment rates amongst autistic adults are a hugely challenging social issue in the UK and globally. Helping companies and employees overcome these hurdles is crucial if we’re to enable autistic persons to use their unique skills successfully in the job market.”
Esmée Fairbairn’s CEO, Caroline Mason, said: “At Esmée we fund work that contributes to a just and inclusive society. We are delighted to support Auticon to create employment opportunities for autistic people, break down the barriers which prevent them participating in daily life, and ultimately show how they can be an asset to the UK.”
In the UK, only 15% of autistic adults are in full time employment, despite 79% of people with autism on out of work benefits wanting to work; 43% of those who have worked have left or lost a job because of their autism . Auticon is unique in directly employing autistic IT consultants, and offers them full support in the form of professional job coaches and IT project managers. These job coaches advise clients on creating autism-friendly work environments and support consultants, as needed, to ensure they feel comfortable and are able to fulfil their potential. Auticon IT project managers guide consultants from a technical angle and advance professional development trajectories that match the individual strengths and interests of consultants.
 All figures compiled by The National Autistic Society (NAS) – see http://www.autism.org.uk/professionals/employers.aspx and http://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/myths-facts-stats.aspx
Auticon is an IT consulting business and the first enterprise that exclusively employs adults on the autism spectrum as IT consultants. It was founded by Dirk Müller-Remus in Berlin in November 2011 with investment from the Munich and London-based Ananda Social Venture Fund. Auticon appointed Kurt Schöffer as CEO in 2013 to grow and expand the social enterprise. An international entrepreneur in the IT, energy and media sectors, Kurt was also an original investor in Auticon. In spring 2016, Auticon launched offices in London, UK and Paris, France. Ray Coyle was appointed as UK CEO at Auticon in August 2016, and is leading the company’s expansion in the UK. Autistic adults often have extraordinary cognitive abilities, such as logic, pattern recognition, precision, sustained concentration, and an ability to intuitively spot errors; yet many find it difficult to secure or maintain mainstream employment. Auticon taps into this potential and produces a win-win-win situation for clients, autistic consultants, as well as society.
Auticon employs more than 70 IT consultants on the autism spectrum in Germany, and is the first European IT consultancy to replicate this successful model in the UK and France.
About Virgin Group
Virgin is a leading international investment group and one of the world’s most recognised and respected brands. Conceived in 1970 by Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Group has gone on to grow successful businesses in sectors including mobile telephony, travel & transportation, financial services, leisure & entertainment and health & wellness.
About Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK both now and in the future. We do this by funding the charitable work of organisations with the ideas and ability to achieve positive change.
The Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK. We make grants of £30 – £35 million annually towards a wide range of work within the arts, children and young people, the environment, social change and food. We also commit up to £35 million in social investments in organisations that aim to deliver both a financial return and a social benefit.