Grants consultancy PNO Group lands investor for growth ambition

25 April 2023 3 min. read
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Pan-European grants consultancy PNO Group has attracted a large investment from private equity firm Bencis Capital Partners aimed at accelerating its international growth.

Currently active in nine European countries, PNO Group is one of the continent’s largest consulting firms specialised in grants and innovation services. The firm supports clients of all sizes and shapes – corporates, small businesses, start-ups,  academic organisations and research institutions – with attracting grants at a national and European level.

PNO Group also helps governments and municipalities with landing subsidies from the European Union and other large funding institutions.

Grants consultancy PNO Group lands investor for growth ambition

Teaming up with Bencis Capital Partners, PNO Group will now work towards three core objectives, said PNO Group CEO Peter Zwart in a statement: scaling-up to meet growing demand, investing in further professionalisation to achieve excellence in its services, and a buy-and-build strategy to expand its footprint.

“Looking at growing international demand, the scaling-up of European projects and the legitimate demands from our clients, synergistic growth remains imperative to meet the increasing need for quality. PNO Group has everything in place to provide this quality, and with the support of Bencis Capital Partners we can continue to do so as we grow further,” Zwart said.

Originally founded in 1985 in the Netherlands as PNO Consultants, the firm long operated as a local player within the Netherlands. Major steps in the internationalisation strategy were taken in 2007, when PNO Consultants merged with Spanish group Econet, and in 2019, when the group acquired France-based Arttic. Last year an Italian player was added to its list of deals.

Today, PNO Group has around 400 staff serving more than 2,000 organisations and 4,000 research clients on an annual basis.

Jacob Versteeg, an Investment Director at Bencis Capital Partners, said: “Extraordinary things are happening in the market in which PNO Group operates. Whether their clients work on a regional, national or European scale, they always contribute in one way or another to major topics such as energy transition and climate, care and health, innovation, economic development, and more.”

“For this reason alone, as well as the enormous professionalism PNO Group applies in its work, we have great faith in the firm’s future, and are delighted to help them achieve their ambitions.”

On the decision to partner with Bencis Capital Partners, Zwart said: “Understanding the specialist industry in which we operate makes Bencis the ideal strategic partner to help grow PNO Group into a leading European grants and innovation consultancy in the coming years.”

Bencis Capital Partners has taken a majority stake, and while terms and conditions have not been disclosed, the deal is according to platform M& worth somewhere between €50 million and €100 million.

Earlier this year, PNO Group expanded into Greece with the setup of a new office in Athens.