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Disrupting traditional industries with immersive technology applications: Digital Catapult’s Augmentor acceleration programme welcomes 10 immersive startups

Posted 9 Oct 2020

10 innovative startups from the UK’s immersive community have joined the fourth edition of Digital Catapult’s Augmentor programme, securing the opportunity to work with leading industry and investor mentors to further develop their commercially focused immersive applications and get ready for fundraising.

The diverse group of small businesses target a wide range of sectors from luxury fashion retail, to entertainment and heavy industry, all of which can be positively impacted by the use of immersive technology in particular during the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost half of the companies in this year’s cohort are female founded or female led businesses, and the combined strength of the teams clearly demonstrates the breadth of UK immersive talent which has wide ranging, tangible business benefits for multiple industries. 27 companies have taken part in the Augmentor programme over the previous three years and, the majority of which have not previously raised investment, have raised a combined total of more than £6.7 million.

Jessica Driscoll, Head of Technology – Immersive at Digital Catapult, said: “At a time when access to entertainment venues is restricted, online shopping has soared, and remote collaboration for work is more important than ever before as many of us remain working from home for the foreseeable future, this year’s Augmentor cohort are providing innovative, commercially viable solutions to issues that are important to us all. What’s more, because Augmentor has always been about bringing investors and industry along for the journey, the teams see tangible results, from business support all the way to investment. We’ll be watching the next three months very closely and look forward to seeing the results.”

Throughout the pandemic, Digital Catapult has supported the startup community by bringing investors and commercial partners to help accelerate investment in immersive technologies, and as the UK economy begins to recover, by partnering with some of the world’s leading investment funds on Augmentor, including HTC Vive, Remagine Ventures, MMC Ventures, Ascension Ventures and more.

Chris Kilroy, Investment Director at Mercia Asset Management PLCt is an investor partner on Augmentor, commented: “Augmentor provides a great platform for early-stage companies across the immersive technology ecosystem to access and build relationships with a broad range of industry experts, partners and investors. As a direct result of our partnership with Augmentor, Mercia has been able to find and lead an investment round into a great business from the programme’s most recent cohort. We’re looking forward to supporting the Digital Catapult team as they continue to grow and develop Augmentor moving forward.”

Nelly Lavielle from Bethnal Green Ventures, an investment mentor on Augmentor said: “ It was an absolute pleasure to mentor the Head Set team (previously known as Also Known As) during the Augmentor programme. What founders Aela and Kate are building has so much potential. We were so impressed with Head Set that we actually ended up investing in the team, who are now part of our portfolio of incredible startups using technology to solve big social and environmental problems.”

Starting this week, the companies begin a 12-week programme to prepare their business for the next stage of its growth journey, to develop and adapt their business model, understand better how to better attract financing to help the business to scale, and to meet and learn from leading industry mentors and investors who could hold the key to unlocking their potential and future growth opportunities. The teams for 2020 are:

  • Emperia: using VR to boost sales and augment the high-end retail sector customer experience. Emperia is creating virtual reality experiences that boost sales and customer engagement for businesses in art and luxury fashion. Improving the way that products can be seen online in 3D, Emperia is helping brands bring the physical retail experience into the virtual world.
  • Evidential: leading the market in immersive crime scene training. Evidential has produced EVITA, a major incident training platform which provides large scale environments where multiple training scenarios can take place. Evidential’s current research and development project, supported by Innovate UK funding, uses augmented reality to help improve the preservation of crime scenes.
  • Fracture Reality: providing mixed reality solutions for remote collaboration. Fracture Reality is developing an online mixed reality platform called Join specifically for engineering and data-intensive users that includes immersive 3D features like gestural sketching and avatars alongside traditional online meeting controls.
  • MagicBeans: creating amazing shared audio experiences to captivate and engage new audiences. MagicBeans is a pioneering spatial audio startup delivering new kinds of mixed reality audio experience to brands, immersive theatre productions, musicians and artists with augmented reality audio mapped to physical spaces. It has developed Roundhead, a platform for creating and delivering six degrees of freedom spatial audio experiences at scale, so users can create, share and listen to spatial audio across multiple devices.
  • MOONHUB: disrupting traditional training models through VR. MOONHUB has created a high quality, immersive training product which uses virtual reality to convert e-learning solutions into interactive training scenarios to improve engagement in employee training.
  • Overview Ark: creating immersive solutions for live and virtual events and memorable fan experiences. Overview Ark has created a tool for production designers and event coordinators to build 1:1 replicas of a live show without the need of programming knowledge. By using this tool to create experiences, producers can easily drag and drop special effects and performance dynamics for experiences where fans can watch their favorite artists, discover new artists, and interact with one another in a hybrid live music role playing game. The company is also part of Digital Catapult’s 5G Testbed Accelerator programme.
  • Percept Imagery: enabling personalised shopping experiences that blend the online and real worlds. Percept Imagery has developed a unique augmented reality platform called Sprie that enables retailers to personalise online shopping experiences by allowing shoppers to try products in the real world before buying them. The AR solution easily integrates into ecommerce websites or social pages making AR more accessible and requiring no app download.
  • RETìníZE: RETìníZE is an award-winning immersive content studio based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, that specializes in the creation of cutting edge immersive VR content as well as interactive and geolocative AR applications. Whilst continuing to grow the immersive production side of the business, RETìníZE’s R&D team is currently developing an innovative, fast-turnaround animation software product that utilises immersive technologies.
  • Slanted Theory: developing 3D data visualisation that can be manipulated in VR worldwide. Through the power of 3D technology (XR) and immersive analytics, Slanted Theory has created “Alaira”, a cloud data analysis and visualisation platform which provides views of data unparalleled in 2D dashboards. Alaira brings people together from anywhere in the world to analyse multiple data sets in real time at the same time, and drive a new generation of faster decision making within organisations.
  • VIKA Books: using augmented reality to promote British Sign Language (BSL) as a language for deaf and hearing children alike. VIKA Books is the first fine-art quality non-fiction publisher to use immersive technologies to enhance book design. Its first AR/MR publication is a buggy book and smartphone app that makes pre-speech communication between babies and adults a reality. Where is the Bird? inspires all families, deaf and hearing, to interact in sign language. The award-winning book and app is designed to be affordable, portable and fun.

Find out more about Digital Catapult’s Augmentor programme here.