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Midwich launches investment arm

Audiovisual equipment distributor looks to encourage innovation across the segment with private equity operation

Audiovisual (AV) specialist Midwich has cut the ribbon on a corporate venture capital arm to invest in entrepreneurs and technologies that will drive the segment forward.

The launch of Midwich Ignite gives the distributor an opportunity to run a standalone business that can help identify future innovation.

The plan is to back technologies that are emerging in audiovisual, smart and connected places, hospitality and events, and robotics and automation.

The distributor has put Alex Kemanes in charge of the operation as managing director.

“Having worked in the AV industry for many years, both as a value-add distributor and as an investor, I am excited to be heading up this new venture, bridging the gap between finance and deep industry knowledge to help drive innovation in our industry and support those entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of technological transformation,” said Kemanes.

The channel player used this week’s ISE event in Barcelona as the backdrop for the announcement, with Stephen Fenby, managing director of Midwich Group, outlining its ambitions at the show.

“Midwich is deeply embedded in the AV industry, with thousands of customers and vendors, and a large, knowledgeable and highly connected team. Midwich Ignite gives us the opportunity to promote innovation in the industry by leveraging our extensive capabilities,” he said.

The firm is encouraging approaches at ISE, as well as via its website, to get the ball rolling with investment projects.

Fenby said Ignite would be investing at the earliest stages, with seed investment up to early-stage businesses. “This is Midwich investing in innovation in the AV industry,” he added.

He said it had experience with mergers and acquisitions, and picking up businesses and helping them grow, but Ignite was about taking minority stakes in early-stage operations and helping the businesses develop their potential.

“We have a lot of experience and a lot of reach into the industry and we thought it would be good to use that experience to drive some innovation in the industry, and give us access to new technologies that have come through, and give the benefits of our experience to new companies coming through,” said Fenby.

He added that it was open-minded about where it would invest, but areas of operation had to be complementary and tap into AV, smart technology, robotics and events.

“There is a huge world of new innovation and opportunity out there so we need to be able to focus on businesses we can really help. It’s got to be something that’s quite close to what we do as a core business,” he said.

There has been a long tradition of specialist distributors using their industry expertise to identify and support emerging technologies. One example is the Ignition arm at Exclusive Networks, while others have taken steps to identify and incubate innovation.

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