Investment & Impact story: Auticon
Updated: Mar 5
People on the autism spectrum are known to have distinct professional qualities, like exceptional attention to detail, sustained concentration and distinctive logical and analytical abilities. Despite these qualities, they often find everyday communication and social interactions in the workplace challenging. Only 10 to 15% of adults with autism are in qualified employment.
Company's inception year: 2011
KOIS investment year: 2012
Target population: unemployed adults diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome
Geographies: Germany, France, UK, Canada, Australia, Italy
In 2007, Dirk Müller-Remus’ son Ricardo was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at the age of 14. A year later Mr Müller-Remus and his wife attended a talk at which 25 people with autism spoke about their struggles to find work. All of them were unemployed despite most of them being highly educated. Mr Müller-Remus was shocked and decided to take action to tackle this issue. He started a company focusing on the strengths of technically skilled people with autism: Auticon.
Auticon was the first company in Germany to employ people diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome as IT consultants. Their distinctive traits are converted from disabilities to advantages by creating the right working environment.
Auticon trains its consultants and continues to assist them during their work placements. The company also informs the client about any particular behavioral traits of their future colleague, thereby managing expectations for all parties.
Under the leadership of its CEO, Kurt Schoffer, the company succeeded to convince over one third of the German Stock Index (DAX), including blue chip companies such as Siemens, Infineon and Allianz, as well as a growing number of SMEs to become clients.
KOIS invested in Auticon in 2012, when it only had seven consultants, as part of its mission to increase the employability of marginalised populations. By unlocking business opportunities that match the strengths of autistic people, Auticon is transforming lives, while creating a positive and lasting impact on the economy and society as a whole.
In 2014, the company obtained the award for the Best Digital Life Innovation in the B2B category at the Bitkom Trendkongress. After expanding to France and the UK, Auticon won the “One to Watch” category at the UK Social Enterprise Awards in 2017. In 2019, Auticon was given the “Visionary Employer Award” by Milestones Autism Resources in the US. They also won the UK Social Enterprise Awards in the category “Social Impact”.
Impact story: Martin
“I see the world in details. When I see something, I create trees of relationships and patterns. I don’t see emotions on someone’s face, I see face parts. If the sides of someone’s mouth are curved, they say it means that someone is happy. I don’t feel empathy but I learned it, through careful formulas and patterns”.
Martin, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, started working at Auticon in November 2012. In previous jobs, Martin often felt stressed. He only spent 30% of his time on actual work, the rest of the time he had to spend talking to people, trying to be polite and getting the right information.
“I don’t see people, I see roles and responsibilities. If I don’t know someone’s role and responsibility, I cannot put them in a pattern. If I cannot see a pattern, it’s disturbing. When I ask people what their role is and how they’re contributing to the work, in 50 percent of the cases they don’t know. I cannot work that way.”
Martin’s project manager from Auticon knows his sensitivities on the work floor and meets the client in advance to ensure that potential issues are addressed proactively. On his Auticon missions, Martin can focus nearly 100% of his time on getting the actual job done. When there remains ambiguity on colleagues’ roles and responsibilities, Martin has learned to ask.
Clients have been very satisfied with Martin’s work and have said that his questions have created clarity on the work floor much beyond the IT job he had come to do.
Auticon's impact in 2019
200 autistic consultants employed
77% were formerly jobless consultants
8000+ consultant days per project
For more info on Auticon, visit https://auticon.com/