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Digital Catapult announces Augmentor programme to stimulate AR and VR investment in UK start-ups

Posted 17 Apr 2018

Early-stage companies to receive expert support & access to state-of-the-art immersive facilities ahead of pitching to investors.

London, 19th April 2018: Digital Catapult today announces the next Open Call for Augmentor, a 10-week programme to discover and support early-stage businesses working in immersive technologies. 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 ten 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 UK is a hub of innovation for immersive content and applications,” comments Aurelien Simon, Head of Immersive at Digital Catapult. “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 £1.25 million. 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.

Dave Haynes, Director of HTC Vive X Europe, said: “Our mission at Vive X is to help cultivate, foster and grow the VR/AR ecosystem, so it’s a natural step to partner with Augmentor. Having recently launched Vive X in Europe, we’re excited to help identify and support promising UK talent, as we continue to be the most active investor in VR start-ups globally.”

Oluwaseyi Sosanya, Founder of Gravity Sketch, said: “The UK’s immersive ecosystem can feel very fragmented, but Augmentor and Digital Catapult bring this all together. Augmentor brought focus to our company and helped us get ready for, and secure, our recent investment round. We look forward to rejoining the programme as a mentor.”

Rob Eastham, CEO of Reality Zero One, said: “One year on, I’m so glad we applied to Augmentor. We’re miles ahead of where we would be without the programme. We were very early stage when we joined, but now we have a studio workshop in Hackney, a growing team and a really exciting product on its way.”

The open call is now live and will run until 23rd May. To apply, visit: www.augmentor.co.uk