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Digital Plan Tech Firms Avolve and DigEplan to Merge

The deal, which comes as local and state permitting turns more digital, could extend the global reach of U.S.-based Avolve. The company’s CEO explains his reasoning and outlook for digital plan review technology.

Avolve Software, which sells digital planning technology to local and regional governments, is planning a move that will see it grow bigger very soon — including internationally — as agencies continue to bring digital tools to permitting and related tasks.

The 14-year-old Arizona-based company says it will merge with U.K.-based DigEplan, whose own software automates and helps to streamline permitting for cities and counties.

The DigEplan brand will give way to the Avolve Software brand when the merger closes, which should take place within the next 90 days, Avolve CEO Gary Heath told Government Technology via an email interview.

“Both Avolve and DigEplan (have) clear benefits in the plan review sector, yet together we can invest more in innovation to ensure that we continue to support cities and counties as digitalization becomes a critical area in order to effectively serve citizens,” Heath wrote.

Avolve, founded in 2008, sells the ProjectDox platform, designed to automate the plan review process, which so often remains stuck in systems dominated by manual and paper processes. Avolve says that more than 150 local and state governments in North America use its technology.

DigEplan, launched in 2011, serves customers from more than 100 agencies around the world and has partnerships with more than 15 other gov tech platforms, including Accela, Infor and Centric.

While the two companies would seem to sell roughly similar products, Heath said it’s more complicated than that.

“DigEplan and ProjectDox serve different market segments, which widens Avolve’s ability to offer our customers and partners plan review solutions that meet the needs for all jurisdictions,” he said. “DigEplan’s international presence also allows Avolve to further expand and create a global plan review leader, which widens our growth ability.”

This merger in the world of electronic plan review also includes what Avolve called a “strategic investment” from the Polaris Growth Fund, but Heath declined to detail how much money was involved.

This pending deal illustrates not only how mergers and acquisitions continue in the broader gov tech industry — a trend that promises to continue, though perhaps with changes in the near future — but the drive among state and local governments to make permitting and related tasks more digital.

A town in Pennsylvania, for instance, offers a recent example of the thinking around permitting and electronic plan review, and helps to highlight how many governments are dealing with those challenges and changes.

Avolve, of course, hopes to take advantage of such efforts.

“With an effective electronic plan review, jurisdictions can accelerate permit issuance, which in turn boosts economic development, community planning and delivered city services,” Heath said when asked about the longer-term prospects for electronic plan review technology. “Jurisdictions with efficient processes, who offer an easier land development experience, are better equipped to compete for larger community development projects that will increase city revenues and constituent enrichment.”
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in New Orleans.