Digital Catapult to stimulate AR & VR investment in UK start-ups

Posted on 24 Apr 2018 by Jonny Williamson

Digital Catapult has announced Open Call for Augmentor, a programme to discover and support early-stage businesses working in immersive technologies.

Digital Catapult has announced Open Call for Augmentor – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Augmentor is aimed at the next generation of companies developing innovative and commercially focused applications for augmented and virtual reality.

It brings together investors, commercial partners and early-stage companies to accelerate business adoption and investment in immersive in the UK.

Up to 10 selected companies will receive 10 weeks of support from Digital Catapult and its partners, to help them shape their businesses ahead of pitching at an investor showcase in September.

Propositions can be relevant to any sector, but the ideas must be commercially viable. Successful applicants will benefit from expert mentorship from partners and previous members of the programme who have gone on to secure funding and commercial partnerships.

They will also receive masterclasses delivered by Digital Catapult and partners including Immerse UK, Realities Centre, the University of Bath and University College London.

In addition, those on Augmentor will have access to state-of-the-art immersive facilities including the Immersive Labs and Dimension Studio. They will also have the opportunity to work with Digital Catapult’s network of supporters, research groups and academic institutions.

In addition to supporting these businesses in developing their commercial products, Augmentor aims to create and catalyse an immersive investment ecosystem across the UK by exposing early-stage investors to the wide-ranging potential of the technology.

Now entering its second year, it is launched with the support of investment firms including Mercia Technologies and Ascension Ventures, as well as global VR accelerator HTC Vive X, which recently opened in Europe to invest in VR/AR start-ups.

The struggle to work with immersive technologies 

Head of Immersive at Digital Catapult, Aurelien Simon, said: “The UK is a hub of innovation for immersive content and applications. However, many early-stage companies working with immersive technology struggle to shape their businesses to make them commercially viable.

“That’s why we’re bringing together investors, commercial experts and early stage companies, to stimulate an immersive ecosystem that supports UK innovation and accelerates the creation of a VR and AR market in the UK economy.”

Participants in the 2017 Augmentor programme have gone on to receive significant investment: Gravity Sketch, a tool that allows designers to collaborate and develop 3D models in VR, has since raised £1.25m. It will re-join the programme as one of eight mentors, helping this year’s cohort take their products to investors.

Reality Zero One, another Augmentor participant re-joining as a mentor, has since raised £285,000 of initial funding. It is developing an end-to-end solution for 3D capture – allowing real-world objects to be captured in 3D and placed into virtual environments within hours.

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