School robotics business plans international expansion

Chris Burgess of CBIS Education and Graham Davies of Finance Yorkshire.

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

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, Mr Burgess assembled robot kits for a two-hour workshop.

Buoyed by positive 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.

Mr Burgess said: “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.”