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Digital Catapult aims to accelerate AR and VR startups to long-term success

Ten augmented reality and virtual reality startups can join 10-week Augmentor accelerator, with access to classes, facilities and mentorship

Innovation centre Digital Catapult aims to promote augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) startups and drive growth of the sector’s ecosystem through its Augmentor accelerator.

The organisation is seeking 10 AR and VR businesses to join its 10-week scheme, which is in its second year. The programme is run in partnership with investors Ascension Ventures and Mercia Technologies, and VR accelerator HTC Vive X.

Participants will have access to classes, facilities and mentorship from Digital Catapult and its partners, which include 2017 participants and research academics.

Augmentor’s aim is to prepare the startups for an investor pitching event in September 2018, and interested parties have until 23 May to apply.

Digital Catapult’s head of immersive, Aurelien Simon, said the programme will help participants overcome the barriers that often stop AR and VR startups developing into commercial businesses.

“Early-stage AR and VR companies are often formed by innovators, investors and creators,” he said. “They are experts in their field, but may not be as experienced in business. We see it as our role to bridge this divide and help these companies turn their great ideas into great business.”

Simon said Digital Catapult and investor support will give the startups a better understanding of how to approach the market. “Investors often like to have a business idea communicated to them in a specific way,” he said. “This can be entirely new to many early-stage companies.

“By exposing them to investment partners throughout the programme, alongside other support and guidance, we give them a greater understanding of their target audience and how to make their business appeal to it.” 

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Gravity Sketch, which enables VR 3D modelling for developers, was a participant in the 2017 Augmentor. The startup has since raised investment of £1.25m and its founder, Oluwaseyi Sosanya, said the programme helped to position the company in the market.

“The UK’s immersive ecosystem can feel very fragmented, but Augmentor and Digital Catapult bring this all together,” he said. “Augmentor brought focus to our company and helped us get ready for, and secure, our recent investment round.”

Digital Catapult also launched a three-year accelerator on 23 January 2018 to help artificial intelligence startups. Companies joining that scheme also get access to mentorship and computing equipment to help them overcome the barriers to success.

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