UK-based construction technology and product data provider NBS has been acquired by the Byggfakta Group, in a deal that also secures RIBA’s long-term future.
NBS, the Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK-based construction technology provider has been acquired by the Byggfakta Group, a leading Scandinavia-based data and software provider to the European construction industry. The deal (value undisclosed) has been backed by private equity firms Stirling Square Capital Partners and TA Associates – a familiar name among construction technology backers, having previously invested in Newcastle-based Viewpoint (2014 post), Germany’s thinkproject (2017 post), and (2013-16) in US-based real estate tech vendor Accruent,* who later acquired another Tyneside business, Kykloud, in January 2018 (post).
Until June 2018 a wholly-owned subsidiary of RIBA Enterprises, NBS has been actively involved in electronic publishing and then software projects since the 1990s (see September 2020 post: NBS Chorus, Uniclass and CDEs). Initially, it extended its conventional ‘National Building Specification’ publishing activities to produce electronic resources for architects and other designers and specifiers. In parallel, it was also commissioned in 1997 to develop a classification system – today known as Uniclass 2015 – which helps industry professionals find different types of related information defined by their subject matter. This is kept under review and updated quarterly under NBS’s stewardship, and has been adopted in Canada and Australia. The company has established country offices in Alberta and Melbourne; it acquired Canada’s Digicon in January 2017, and earlier this week (23 November 2020: news) announced the acquisition of SCL Schumann, a consultancy firm which has also developed a specialist software tool Ezyspec.
NBS has also developed its own BIM object library (the NBS National BIM Library), and was part of a consortium which developed the ‘BIM toolkit’ (see Why the UK BIM toolkit is a key building block, October 2014). In August 2018, NBS launched its first cloud-based software, NBS Chorus (post), and its product data, including the BIM library, now forms part of online offering, NBS Source. Earlier in 2018, LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Bank invested £31.8m for a significant minority shareholding in NBS.
According to NBS, its platform “brings construction specifiers, manufacturers and contractors together, to improve the quality of project decision making, drive product specification and provide critical insights, through a unique digital toolset.” It says NBS will remain a prominent brand in the construction space, while “increased investment will boost product development and international expansion plans”. It will also continue a long-standing partnership with the RIBA on the delivery of the RIBA CPD Providers’ Network.
NBS executive chairman Colin Smith, right, says:
“We are delighted to be joining the Byggfakta Group. 2020 saw an acceleration of technology adoption in the construction sector, which is set to continue for years to come. NBS has benefited from this trend and will continue to keep pushing ahead of the curve. Partnering with Byggfakta Group and its investors is an exciting development that will give us the support we need to scale up further and faster. NBS will be taking its products to new markets and will continue to improve its offering to existing customers.
“We will continue serving our customers with our existing products and services, but with the reach of a significant industry player and substantial financial backing. 2021 will be extremely exciting as we push on with new developments and enter into new markets.”
Byggfakta’s first UK deal
The NBS acquisition marks Byggfakta Group’s first expansion to the UK and follows recent investments in Portugal’s Vortal (an eSourcing and eProcurement platform) and Switzerland’s Olmero (a provider of tendering, project management, defects management and BIM tools). The Group also has offices in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Spain. It says the NBS investment will help the group to broaden its scope both geographically and functionally, and to strengthen its position as a data and technology provider.
Byggfakta Group CEO Stefan Lindqvist, right, said:
“We have long known about and admired NBS and its unique position in the UK construction market. With the support of RIBA and LDC, and under Colin’s leadership, NBS has become an attractive, SaaS-native technology vendor and we are excited to welcome the company, its employees, and its customers into the Byggfakta family.”
RIBA president Alan Jones said:
“The RIBA founded NBS, and alongside LDC, we are proud to have played a key role in developing it into a thriving business offering exceptional products and services. This transaction secures the RIBA’s long-term future and supports our ongoing work on behalf of members and the architects’ profession in the UK and internationally.”
(* Thanks to Steve Hamil for that tip.)