INCREASED QUALITY OF LIFE: Both Unicus and auticon have experienced that the employees gain increased self-confidence and improved quality of life from permanent employment. Photographer: Oda Hveem

This agreement is a proactive move that unites two innovative social enterprises and global players in the IT industry. Both companies employ people with autism as IT consultants.

“The merger of Unicus and auticon is an important milestone for investment in social sustainability. We started investing in social entrepreneurs in 2007, with the vision that it was possible to develop innovative companies that could deliver both major social effects and strong financial results,” comments Johan H. Andresen, owner and chair of Ferd, who continues:

“Our journey with Unicus started in 2009 with a small grant to fund a pilot project, followed by an investment in Unicus in 2016 and in auticon in 2018. With the merger, we are creating a global social entrepreneur, one of the very biggest of its kind, with ambitious plans for the future. Of course, that makes us very happy and proud.”

The merged company will operate in 14 countries and expects to have sales of EUR 50 million and more than 600 employees by the end of 2023. More than 80 per cent of the employees of the new company will be on the autism spectrum, and we know of no company in the world that has a larger share.

JOINS FORCES: Unicus founder Lars Johansson-Kjellerød (left) joins the management of the new, merged company together with CEO Kurt Schöffer (in the middle) and CFO Markus Weber from auticon. Photo: Andrea Pella

Inclusion from exclusion

The majority of employees of Unicus and auticon have often been out of work for a long time. It is estimated that between 70-80 per cent of adults with autism are not in any kind of meaningful work. This is despite the fact that many people with autism have positive characteristics that are sought-after qualities in working life, such as attention to detail, accuracy, structure and a systematic approach.

Both Unicus and auticon see these characteristics as a competitive advantage. In both cases, they have also found that employees gain increased self-confidence and quality of life from getting into permanent work.

“Unicus and auticon help create better lives for our employees, while creating results for our customers,” says Lars Johansson-Kjellerød, founder and CEO of Unicus Holding.

Ambitions for growth

The purpose of the merger is to create a stronger company, which can create even greater value and even greater social impact – both in today’s markets and in new ones. With the merger, customers will gain access to an even wider range of IT, software and management services, as well as a larger team with a global footprint. Following the merger, Unicus customers will also have access to auticon’s consultancy related to management of neurodiversity. At the same time, employees can continue to develop in the same, secure working environment.

Ferd will own 47.7% of the new company, together with key investors such as the Autism Impact Fund, Ananda Impact Ventures, KOIS, Felix Porsche, Sir Richard Branson, Ferst Capital Partners and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.