Verdane IX acquires dyslexia aid software company

10 Apr, 2017

Nordic private equity fund Verdane Capital IX AB (Verdane IX) becomes the majority owner of Norwegian software company Lingit AS, which provides multilingual literacy support for dyslexics and others with reading and writing difficulties. The plan is to launch the technology internationally.

Between five and ten percent of all students, many because of dyslexia, have difficulties acquiring basic writing and / or reading skills. Lingit develops software that makes reading and writing easier by assisting with spelling, vocabulary and reading in text processing programmes for computers and tablets. The user must do the actual work, but receives support so that many reading and writing errors can be avoided.

“Lingit has significantly improved the school and work situation for tens of thousands of Norwegian dyslexics during the past 15 years. We have analysed large parts of the European market and are convinced that Lingit’s software is the most user-friendly and technologically advanced. That is why we want to make it available to dyslexics in the rest of Europe, and at the same time create a new Norwegian export success story,” says Investment professional in Verdane Capital Advisors, Jakob Greger Gravdal.

Lingit was established in 2001 by leading academics from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. One of the founders were Professor of language technology Torbjørn Nordgård, who today is the company’s head of research and development. In 2012, Lingit merged with competitor Include from Bergen, Norway. Include was founded by Teacher of the visually impaired, Sverre Andreas Holbye, who currently is Lingit’s Head of business development.

Lingit's headquarters are in Trondheim. Additionally, the company employs programmers in Bergen and the Ukraine. In 2016, the company had revenues of NOK 30.6 million, with an EBITDA of NOK 9.7 million. Lingit currently offers a range of software based products for reading and writing support in Norwegian, English, German, French and Spanish for PC, Mac and tablets.    

Verdane IX acquires 85.5 percent of the shares in Lingit AS. The purchase price is undisclosed. The founders of the company own the remaining 14.5 percent. All employees will remain with the company.

“Everyone in Lingit is passionate about language and learning. Our tools ensure that children and adults get the necessary support to deal with their dyslexia, so that they can have the same educational, vocational and career opportunities as everyone else. We have recently released an upgraded version of our TextPilot literacy tool, which has set a new industry standard for software for reading and writing support. Use of our software is fairly widespread in Norway, but there are still many Norwegians with reading and writing difficulties who are unaware of the tools available to them,” says Gorm Bjørnar Karlsen, General manager of Lingit.        

While Norway is at a fairly advanced level when it comes to dyslexia awareness and public support systems for dealing with reading and writing difficulties, the situation is not as good for dyslexics in many other European countries.

“We know that our technology can help millions of dyslexics outside of Norway. At the same time, we have recognised that we need additional funds to launch our products across Europe. With Verdane as a majority owner we can realise this ambition. Verdane also provides us with necessary expertise within international expansion and sales. We will also be able to put an even greater emphasis on product development, which in turn will benefit everyone who has reading and writing difficulties, say the Lingit founders, Sverre Andreas Holbye and Torbjørn Nordgård.

Verdane IX invests in small- and medium-sized growth companies in Northern Europe, primarily by providing liquidity to owners of unlisted portfolios. It is particularly looking for maturing companies that it can put on a global trajectory. Lingit was acquired as part of a portfolio transaction.