Altran buys US-based Synapse, merges unit into Cambridge Consultants

06 July 2016

Cambridge Consultants has acquired US-based Synapse in a deal aimed to expand its footprint and technology development capability across the Atlantic to the boarders of the Pacific. The deal is part of Altran Group’s ‘Altran 2020. Ignition’ strategy which aims to double the size of Cambridge Consultants by 2020 on the back of increased global demand for blended design, innovation and technology offerings..

Synapse was founded in 2002 and is located along the US West Coast, headquartered in Seattle. The firm provides product development and consultancy to a range of high level corporate clients. The company is focused on developing complex products through mechanical and electrical capabilities as well as software development. Today the company has four offices, including one in Hong Kong, and employs more than 150 specialists.

Altran supported the management buyout of Cambridge Consultants, a UK-based product development and consultancy firm, in 2002 following the collapse of its then UK parent, Arthur D. Little. Cambridge Consultants, now an independent entity within the Altran network, has enjoyed steady growth in the intervening years, adding a US office in 2004 on the East Coast, in Boston, and an office in Singapore in 2013. The company today has a staff of more than 550.

As part of Altran’s ‘2020. Ignition’ strategic plan, which, among others, aims to double the size of Cambridge Consultants by 2020 to over 1,000 product development and technology specialists, Cambridge Consultants has acquired Synapse for an undisclosed sum. Cambridge Consultants’ motivation for the deal is to broaden its global footprint as it accelerates the expansion of its global operations, in line with increasing demand for product development related consultancy, and services. Through the deal, product development activity revenues of Altran are set to increase by 50% by the end of this year. Ross Collins, founder of Synapse, will take a seat on the board of Cambridge Consultants as a Director, while Redwood Stephens, President of Synapse, becomes the President of Cambridge Consultants’ US West operations.

Altran buys US-based Synapse

Dominique Cerutti, Chairman and CEO of Altran, remarks “This acquisition is a major milestone for our Altran 2020. Ignition strategy, allowing us to further expand the Cambridge Consultants model as part of our innovative product development activity, as well as establish a strong footprint in the US and particularly on the West Coast.”

Commenting on the deal, Cambridge Consultants CEO Alan Richardson says: “When we first met with colleagues at Synapse we realised that we shared the same vision of the future, and similar skills, expertise and culture, but different geographic footprints that were complementary. Synapse has a rich heritage in developing technology – driven consumer products and strengthens our reach both geographically and in this key market segment. Our success has been enabled by having highly engaged staff in the same way that Synapse has built its business by offering its staff ‘the best job you ever had’. Both organisations have an award – winning reputation as employers, which is illustrative of the similar cultures we have. This deal is great news for both firms, but even better news for clients who now have access to the enhanced capabilities of the joined organisations.”

Stephens, President at Synapse Product Development, adds “After getting to know the leadership team at Cambridge Consultants, we quickly realised they have a similar people – centric approach to how they run the business. We have the same ambitions to tackle the most challenging product development projects and to create a work environment that promotes lifelong learning at all levels in the organisation. Together the two firms will offer an exciting place to work that has even more growth opportunities for our talented employees.”


SQW Group purchases property-based regeneration consultancy

19 April 2019

UK consulting firm SQW Group has completed its first acquisition since it completed a management buyout in January 2019. BBP Regeneration joins the company having collaborated with SQW for more than 20 years.

Established in 1983, SQW Group now operates all over the world. Comprising SQW, Oxford Innovation, Oxford Innovation Services – one of the UK’s leading innovation centre operators – and Oxford Investment Opportunities Network, the organisation’s origins can be traced to Britain’s two ancient university cities: Oxford, through Oxford Trust founders, Martin and Audrey Wood, and Cambridge, through SQW’s work in producing The Cambridge Phenomenon.

The consultancy specialises in public policy, working with entities from the public, private and voluntary sectors to research, develop, implement and evaluate social and economic development interventions. It now employs over 250 people across regional offices in London, Oxford and Edinburgh, and provides business support to over 4,000 entrepreneurs and small businesses each year. At the start of 2019, SQW secured its independence in a management buyout, advised on by M&A experts from Liberty Corporate Finance and Penningtons Manches.

SQW Group purchases property-based regeneration consultancy

SQW has strengthened its position as a provider of services across the business spectrum with the acquisition of BBP Regeneration. Founded in 1994, the consulting firm specialises in land and property-based regeneration and growth schemes, and is a leading social and economic development consultancy. 

The two firms first worked together over 20 years ago, when SQW and BBP collaborated to develop the first Regional Economic Strategy for the South East. More recently, they developed an economic strategy for Thanet and are now working together in locations stretching from Cwmbran via Oxfordshire to London.

With the addition of BBP, SQW can now provide an integrated advisory service for organisations developing property schemes which deliver economic benefit to their local area. By joining SQW, meanwhile, BBP hopes to further enhance its ability to support clients in delivering property and place-making ambitions. 

Speaking about the deal, SQW CEO David Crichton-Miller commented, “The UK more than ever needs solutions to the challenges of places – of high streets under threat, of meeting housing delivery targets, and of both economically over-successful and economically challenged towns and cities – and the combination of SQW and BBP is uniquely suited to developing those solutions. [This deal] brings together critical and complementary services relating to places to serve our clients with leading edge and practical advice.”

Andy Smith, Director of BBP Regeneration, added, “SQW shares with BBP the same values of seeking to provide outstanding, practical, real world advice that helps get buildings built and places developed.  We greatly look forward to the opportunities that come from joining our two organisations together.”