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School robotics business plans international expansion

Pix: Shaun Flannery/shaunflanneryphotography.com COPYRIGHT PICTURE>>SHAUN FLANNERY>01302-570814>>07778315553>> 26th January 2016 Finance Yorkshire - CBiS Education Wyther Lane Industrial Estate, Leeds. L-R Chris Burgess of CBiS Education with Graham Davies of Finance Yorkshire.

A robotics business that inspires young people to learn about engineering and computing is set for global expansion after securing investment from Finance Yorkshire.

Leeds-based CBIS Education was founded by programming entrepreneur Chris Burgess, who started out selling computer repair services from his parent’s garage as a teenager.

After being approached by a secondary school in Yorkshire to help teach students using robotics, Chris assembled robot kits for a two-hour workshop.

Buoyed by excellent feedback from pupils and teachers, he developed robotic car and arm kits that work ‘out of the box’, based on Raspberry Pi boards. These are accompanied by online lesson plans and a training programme for teachers.

The business now provides kits and resources to schools across the UK, along with overseas markets including South Africa and the UAE.

Finance Yorkshire has invested £150,000 in CBIS Education from its Seedcorn fund, which invests in innovative, technology-driven businesses.

The money will be used to buy parts and hire staff as the company looks to grow sales through educational distributors. It will also fund new product development, including a recently launched range of cardboard robot kits.

Chris said: “We are now in 170 schools in eight countries and we always get 100 per cent positive feedback from pupils and teachers.

“Our niche is high engagement learning. If a student is totally engrossed in what they are doing, they will learn. These are the engineering graduates of the future. We provide teachers with the toolkit to maximise the potential of the learning opportunity.

“The business has grown by more than 250 per cent year-on-year. Growth like that requires external funding and we were delighted that Finance Yorkshire agreed to support us. We can now look to explore the potential in more overseas markets.”

Graham Davies, investment manager at Finance Yorkshire, said: “Chris has identified an opportunity to bridge the areas of educational hardware, cloud-based curriculum resources and teacher training. The company has grown strongly over the past two years and we’re looking forward to working with CBIS to develop its expertise, grow its product portfolio and enter new markets.”

Finance Yorkshire provides seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15,000 to £2m to help a range of small and medium sized businesses to meet their funding requirements for growth and development.

The Fund has made 800 investments in businesses, increasing overall turnover by £366 million and creating and safeguarding over 11,000 jobs.  There are also further investments in the pipeline thanks to support from the Regional Growth Fund.

Chris Burgess of CBiS Education with Graham Davies of Finance Yorkshire

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