Ascent Dips Into £75 Million War Chest to Acquire One of the UK’s Largest Data Science Consulting Firms, Mango Solutions
Rich Pugh to take Chief Data Scientist role
Ascent, a UK software strategy and development firm, has acquired award-winning* Mango Solutions, one of the UK’s largest data science consulting firms, as it vies for a bigger slice of the fast-growing market for data science, advanced analytics, data engineering, and IoT (Internet of Things) solutions.
Although financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, the acquisition is expected to add 65 employees and approximately £5M in annual revenues to Ascent. Prior to the acquisition both companies were close business partners. The combined business will employ more than 340 people.
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Ascent is backed by private equity house Horizon Capital and led by CEO Stewart Smythe. Ascent had previously invested £30M less than 12 months ago, which was used for earlier acquisitions. Smythe confirmed he has access to significant additional funding as required to deliver the Ascent plan.
Commenting on the deal Smythe said: “We’ve enjoyed a proven working relationship with Mango Solutions for some time now, and are so confident in the quality of their work and their people that we decided to make the partnership permanent.
“Achieving business strategy goals in mid and upper-mid market customers now requires ambidextrous, integrated software and data capabilities to deliver effective digital transformation. Companies that can achieve this will do better than their competitors, grow more quickly and see exponential commercial gain. Delivering long-term value to these businesses demands extensive expertise in advanced analytics and data science techniques like statistical modelling and machine learning; exactly the sort of deep capability that Mango Solutions brings to the table. We expect the combined businesses to deliver organic growth in the region of 20 percent annually.”
Smythe estimates that more than 80 per cent of new businesses coming to Ascent for help in 2020 had requirements that escalated rapidly from software into data analytics and modelling. The acquisition of Mango Solutions means that Ascent is now well placed to design and deliver integrated ‘big picture’ digital strategies for businesses looking to do something new, do something better, or both.
Smythe says that Covid-19 has also been another factor driving demand in recent months. Many European businesses have rapidly pivoted to prioritise digital experience, which requires deep insight into customer needs, habits and behaviours to successfully extend their relationship online, or convert them from other channels. This requires extensive blending of front end, customer-facing online capabilities with commercially-driven data analytics, modelling and insights.
Rich Pugh, Chief Data Scientist at Mango Solutions, will continue in this role at Ascent. Regarded as one the UK’s leading data experts, Pugh will help champion Ascent’s newly-acquired ability to deliver advanced analytics and data science to a much broader customer base. Rich will continue to be a leading authority in the data science community across Europe. Pugh also believes that both businesses share a passion for equipping customers with new capabilities to build digital muscle and make better decisions.
Pugh said: “The most exciting thing about joining Ascent is that we will see our vision and expertise become accessible to so many more businesses so much sooner. What was once the domain of only the largest enterprises is now accessible to the mid and upper-mid market – at a time when demand for insight and intelligence is surging. Ascent is the accelerant to take Mango’s capability and leadership in data science to this broader market.”
Smythe added: “The vast majority of boards now believe that there is huge value in understanding and exploiting the data that they have in their businesses, and that extracting this value is an immediate priority for them. It is no longer seen as the preserve of large multinational or niche sub sector businesses.”
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Simon Hitchcock, Managing Partner at Horizon Capital, concluded: “Mango is the third acquisition we have made with Ascent since our investment in the business 12 months ago. These acquisitions have enhanced the impressive organic growth of the business under Stewart Smythe’s leadership and are creating a market leader in the digital transformation market. We’re looking forward to welcoming the Mango Solutions team to Ascent and see their data capabilities as a core part of the business going forward. We look forward to supporting Ascent in further acquisitions of founder-led, technically brilliant businesses with strong cultures like Mango.”
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