March 12, 2018 / 12:36 AM / 7 days ago

Irish VR start-up eyes global roll-out after London listing

LONDON (Reuters) - Irish start-up VR Education Holdings (VRE) is listing in London and Dublin on Monday to fund the global roll-out of its virtual reality platform that provides experiences for students, teachers and corporate trainers.

The company founded in Waterford, Ireland, by husband and wife team David and Sandra Whelan just over three years ago, said it had secured more than 6 million pounds of funding from UK institutions, valuing the company at about 19.3 million pounds.

David Whelan said VRE’s capabilities had been showcased by its Apollo 11 experience, in which the user becomes astronaut Neil Armstrong and plants a flag on the Moon.

“We sold over 100,000 copies,” he said. “This year we are releasing ‘Titanic’, where you get to dive on the shipwreck of the Titanic and you get to witness the sinking of the Titanic from the point of view of a survivor on lifeboat six.”

He said VRE, which has opened an office in London, decided to list on London’s junior AIM market and the Irish stock exchange rather than raising funds privately to help it attract the best quality technical and business talent.

“Developers want a lot of recognition, (and) because we’ve won so many awards we’ve attracted some fantastic technical talent,” he said.

“We now need some of the best business developers, and being a public listed company will attract them to us.”

Educators and trainers can use the company’s ENGAGE platform to build their own VR experiences and sell them to other users, he said, adding that the company was already working with institutions including the BBC and Oxford University.

It supports high-end VR headsets, like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, but it would work with the next generation of cheaper hardware, he said.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Peter Graff

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