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Aliter Capital adds Sponge in second digital learning deal

Establishes major new force in growing learning technology market

Aliter Capital has completed a transaction which will see Sponge UK Limited (“Sponge”), a custom digital learning solutions specialist, coming together with Glasgow-based Bolt Learning Limited (“Bolt”) to create a major new force in the learning technology market.

Sponge designs and develops bespoke digital learning solutions, including eLearning, learning games, motion graphics, interactive video and immersive technologies (such as VR and AR) and blended learning solutions. Sponge works with some of the world’s largest brands and its solutions are used in more than 124 countries worldwide, with capability to translate into over 200 languages.

Bolt was acquired by Aliter in June 2019 and has expanded rapidly under Aliter’s direction. Bolt also develops eLearning solutions and content but, additionally, provides a sophisticated Learning Management System (LMS) and a range of advanced content development tools.

Billy Allan, managing partner of Aliter said: ‘Bringing Sponge and Bolt together creates a major new player in the digital learning market which combines powerful learning technologies with creative content development. Our strategy is to build on this foundation to create a broad-based blended learning group underpinned by market-leading learning technologies.’

Louise Pasterfield, Sponge founder and Managing Director said: ‘Since the start, we have been very impressed with Aliter’s strategy and their vision for the business. The Sponge management team is extremely excited with the opportunities this venture will bring and the additional value-add we’ll be able to deliver to our existing clients and prospects. We foresee the Group expanding rapidly under Aliter’s guidance.’

Tamlin Roberts, Bolt CEO said: ‘It has been a pleasure in getting acquainted with the senior team at Sponge. We have a complementary range of technologies and capabilities which will enhance the value we can provide to our customers and underpin the next phase of growth.’

About Sponge ( Sponge UK Limited was founded in 2004 by Louise Pasterfield. A leading custom digital learning provider, Sponge training solutions solve multiple business challenges, from risk and compliance to business transformation, people development and skills enhancement. The company works with global brands across multiple sectors and industries including pharmaceutical, retail, manufacturing, finance, professional services and FMCG. Recognised as a market leader, Sponge was named Learning Provider of the Year at 2019 LPI Learning Awards and won silver for Company of the Year at the 2018 Learning Technologies Awards.

About Bolt Learning ( Founded in 2013 by Tamlin Roberts, Glasgow-headquartered Bolt Learning Limited is a leading Learning Management System (Spark) and online solutions provider that offers a range of services, including bespoke eLearning content creation through its inhouse ‘content editor’ (Ignite). Bolt has a blue-chip customer base, initially focused on the retail, food wholesale and professional association sectors.

About Aliter ( Aliter Capital LLP is a specialist UK support services investor which announced the close of its specialist support services fund (Aliter Capital I, LP) in February 2017. Aliter was founded by a group of seasoned support services entrepreneurs and investors – Billy Allan, Greig Brown, Andy Galloway and Andrew Busby –and focuses on small and mid-sized businesses in the UK support services sector, a market valued at over £300 billion. Its approach differs from traditional private equity models by making only a limited number of selective portfolio investments to deliver dedicated hands-on support. Aliter has now closed a total of 15 transactions since the beginning of 2017.

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