£1 million investment for Shropshire virtual reality firm

A Shropshire firm that creates 360 degree virtual reality experiences has received a £1 million investment.

The firm can create unique 360 degree VR experiences for up to 750 people
The firm can create unique 360 degree VR experiences for up to 750 people

The funding will support Igloo Vision’s latest international expansion plans as it grows its chain of sales and demonstration centres.

The Craven Arms-based firm has clients including BP, Microsoft and Uber and is now set to undergo a recruitment drive, with seven new hires already planned.

Shared VR tunnel for the 2016 London Boat Show

The company, which received the funding via Frontier Development Capital, is known for developing projection domes and cylinders which, when combined with its specialist software and technology, create unique 360 degree VR experiences for up to 750 people.

Calling itself a Shared VR company, Igloo can display any 360 degree content or VR in its immersive spaces. And, because entire teams can get inside these spaces and engage with the content, the technology is well-suited to training, simulation and visualisation, as well as events and experiences.

Since opening in 2007, Igloo has delivered more than 500 events and installations in 22 countries and now employs 50 people across offices in Shropshire, London, New York, Los Angeles, Toronto and Melbourne.

Selling to world's biggest brands

Dennis Wright, CEO at Igloo Vision, said: “For a VR company we are unusual, because we are already profitable and selling to many of the world’s biggest brands.

"The one thing that has held us back is that we haven’t had enough investment to expand as quickly as we would have liked. Frontier Development Capital’s involvement now enables us to accelerate our growth."

Last year, the business recorded £3.3m of American export sales after a string of contract wins.

One of Igloo's six-metre cylinders is now enabling hospitality firm Marriott International to use the power of Shared VR in its design prototyping and development

Igloo expects this to rise to £19m within five years. It recently announced a new project with a global consulting firm to install Igloo systems at two US-based innovation centres, as well as a network of offices.

Frontier Development Capital is a national fund manager supporting businesses with investments of up to £7m.

Graham Mold, head of growth capital at Frontier Development Capital, said: “Igloo Vision represents the best of British design and technology, something that has allowed it to make waves globally and build an impressive client roster.

"The demand for its products and services demonstrates the scale of the firm’s innovation and commitment to creating highly engaging experiences and solutions for its clients’ audiences.

The firm's custom 210 degree system at the University of Brighton

“This investment, an innovative package of debt and equity, aims to provide Igloo with the backing it needs to build on this success and continue to disrupt new markets. If recent wins are anything to go by, the business has a hugely exciting future ahead.

“Frontier Development Capital is committed to supporting regional businesses and we look forward to working with Igloo Vision’s highly talented management team to unlock further growth domestically and internationally.”

The Centre for Sport and Exercise Science and Medicine at The University of Brighton is the proud owner of a 210 degree Igloo projection system.

Floor space in the lab is at a premium, so the firm proposed a 210 degree screen that can be easily stored then quickly erected whenever it is needed. The simulator is primarily used to research reaction times and decision-making in sport-related situations.

Working closely with Drive Productions, it also designed and installed a 20-channel immersive projection system for the London Boat Show's 4D Experience Tunnel.

The concept was to drop the audience into the middle of the ocean by combining photorealistic CGI imagery, 4D environmental effects and surround sound.

One of Igloo's six-metre cylinders is also now enabling hospitality firm Marriott International to use the power of Shared VR in its design prototyping and development.

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