E-learning deal raises a smile for Salford

October 5, 2001

An e-learning business incubated by Salford University has been bought by the training company set up by comedian John Cleese.

Video Arts, known for its training videos that include actors such as Dawn French, Hugh Laurie and Jennifer Saunders, was set up in 1972 by the Monty Python star and others.

Earlier this year, it bought Learning Pack Ltd, an e-learning firm developed by Salford's Gemisis programme.

The initiative, launched in 1996, developed online services for small and medium-sized enterprises in the Northwest, delivered on a metropolitan area network capable of broadcast-quality video.

Research and development of e-learning materials for various sectors became a significant part of Gemisis activity. In late 1999 these activities were spun off into Learning Pack Ltd.

Eric Molyneux became managing director of the firm, in which Salford retained a half share.

Contracts with suppliers and clients were signed under the Learning Pack banner, while the expertise was drawn from Gemisis staff on a contract basis.

Although its training video business was strong, the company wanted to meet the demand from the corporate sector for online learning. In late 2000 it began discussions with Video Arts.

Mr Molyneux said it was a perfect fit: Learning Pack had the technical expertise and Video Arts had the brand name and marketing and sales expertise.

Learning Pack's (now called Exact Solutions) relationship with Salford has not come to an end. An agreement guarantees ongoing collaboration with the Gemisis team; and Video Arts is funding an e-learning research programme at the university. The company has access to the technical know-how of university experts.

Details: www.videoarts.com ; www.salford.ac.uk

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