Digital Catapult’s Engagement Manager - Immersive, Darren Murphy reviews the Augmentor programme and how it supported the startups developing solutions that use the latest immersive technologies.
At Digital Catapult we want to support, promote and grow the development of immersive technology (virtual, augmented, and mixed reality) in the UK. There is already an established ecosystem of over 400 immersive companies here (click here for an interactive map). These are mostly in the creative industry but we’re seeing a number of companies beginning to develop applications and tools that explore the potential in other industries. We want to accelerate their progress as part of our ambition to see the UK as a global leader in immersive technology.
Digital Catapult and Seedcamp established Augmentor, a ten-week mentorship programme focused on early stage businesses that are developing innovative and commercially-focused applications of augmented, mixed and virtual reality.
Working with a cohort of mentors and partners including HTC Vive, Microsoft HoloLens and EDF Energy over 70 applicants were whittled down to six finalists who were chosen to participate in the program.
The selected companies were:
In the initial four weeks of the Augmentor Programme, Seedcamp and Digital Catapult spent crucial and beneficial time with the selected companies getting a deep understanding of the businesses and their targets for traction, investment, product and business development. From this, we developed bespoke masterclasses. Seedcamp provided finance, fundraising and product development expertise and Digital Catapult supplied commercial R&D and exclusive access to academic research as well as the full facilities of Digital Catapult’s London centre and The Immersive Lab.
In late May, Augmentor concluded with a showcase at Digital Catapult. Over 100 investors, representing the top tier of the UK investor community, gathered to hear about the Augmentor programme and meet the businesses. The participating companies pitched to a packed room before demonstrating the products in the newly launched Immersive Lab.
You can watch video highlights from the showcase here.
Augmentor supports early stage businesses developing immersive technologies that will impact our day to day lives - not just our recreation time - bringing it into our workplaces, entertainment hubs and cultural sites.
It has proven the power of such programmes to provide focus on emerging technology - sparking public, media and investor interest in a rapidly developing market. For Seedcamp and other investors, it creates an environment to spend more time with companies and learn more about them than a traditional investment pipeline would allow.
For the participating companies, it provided access to mentoring, extensive business and technical expertise, a substantial network of investors, academics and professional contacts as well as Digital Catapult’s facilities including The Immersive Lab. This enabled them to develop their business, product and pitch. Over the ten weeks, they have rapidly expanded their networks and got the head start they need to reach for investment.
“The accelerated access to that network has been critical and being able to draw on that in such a short space of time, I think that would have been impossible by ourselves.” Garry Heywood, Co-founder of Kinicho
To see what else the finalists had to say about Augmentor watch the video here
You can find out more about the participating companies and future opportunities at www.augmentor.co.uk