Boston-based Essential Design bought by PA Consulting Group

01 November 2018 2 min. read

Boston-based innovation strategy and product design business Essential Design has been acquired by London-headquartered PA Consulting, a global innovation and transformation consulting firm. Essential was advised on the transaction by investment bank Equiteq. 

Founded in 2001, Essential uses deep design, engineering, and research capabilities to solve complex business problems. The company designs connected/IoT products and platforms; optimizes product portfolios with well-aligned software and hardware; helps clients commercialize innovative ideas into real-world products; and creates engaging customer experiences, from digital and human-centered services to physical product interactions.

As experts in user-centered design, Essential has helped consumer, life sciences, and healthcare sector clients create breakthrough physical and digital products. The company has partnerships with a number of leading universities and research institutions, including MIT and Harvard, and has won a slew of awards for excellence in design research, strategy, and development.Boston-based Essential Design bought by PA Consulting GroupEssential has now been acquired by innovation and technology-focused consultancy PA Consulting. The privately-held firm, founded in Britain during WWII to strategically advise wartime manufacturing management, now has over 2,600 employees and over £400 million in annual revenues. The advisory firm provides business consulting, technology and innovation services to clients across industries, with public sector work representing about half of its revenues. PA has a global presence spanning 18 countries, with offices in Europe, the US, the Persian Gulf, and Asia Pacific.

The company’s Cambridge (UK) Technology Centre, founded in 1970, has been the locus of many tech innovations throughout the years, and helped make the city a principle hub for UK tech firms. The center has developed innovations like the brushless servo motor, a diabetes self-monitoring device, 4G wireless test equipment, and a radar IED detection system.

The acquisition will reinforce PA’s global capabilities in strategy, innovation, product design and engineering, and manufacturing process improvement. Essential Design will become a new innovation center for PA in the United States, working in Partnership with the Cambridge, UK center.

Essential will bolster PA's current innovation efforts, which include supporting the Virgin Hyperloop One transportation project. The system, popularized by Elon Musk and drawing heavily on previous designs by Robert Goddard, sends a pod through a tube free of friction or air resistance at high speed. Hyperloop One aims to have a fully operational system by 2021.

PA is also supporting UK-based Skipping Rocks Labs in its efforts to create sustainable plastic alternatives. The company’s Ooho natural alternative packaging for liquids is made from seaweed extracts and degrades in about six weeks.