Irish VR start-up nominated for award at Venice Film Festival

10 Sep 2018

Image: Muratart/Shutterstock

Waterford-based Immersive VR Education is a game-changer for education and experiential learning.

An Irish tech firm represented the country at the Venice Film Festival awards at the weekend for its BBC co-production, 1943: Berlin Blitz.

In February of this year, the Waterford-based company Immersive VR Education (trading as VR Education Holdings) won a commission from the BBC Northern Ireland’s Rewind archive innovation team, in conjunction with the BBC’s central VR Hub, to work on the creation.

‘The primary goal of the company is to bring immersive technology to distance learning and to transform how people all over the world learn and experience events, both past and present’

1943: Berlin Blitz was one of 28 films to be nominated for the Virtual Reality Film Award (Linear category) at the Venice Film Festival.

From inception to creation, the project took six of the company’s 34-person team four months in total to build.

1943: Berlin Blitz puts viewers in the shoes of BBC war correspondent Wynford Vaughan-Thomas and allows them to retrace his journey on a genuine bombing raid to Berlin at the height of World War II.

Virtually there

Waterford firm recreates World War II Lancaster bomber raid on Berlin in 1943 in VR for the BBC to mark 100 years of the RAF.

Immersive VR Education tries to realistically recreate the sights from a Lancaster bomber during a raid on Berlin in 1943. Image: Immersive VR Education

“When we first heard of our nomination in this category, we were blown away. We knew that a Venice Film Festival nomination would afford us a platform to reach a wider and even more diverse audience, which is absolutely crucial in getting our message out there,” said Immersive VR Education co-founder David Whelan.

“And it goes without saying that for our work to be recognised in this way is undeniably gratifying.

“From the beginning, [the] project in itself has been hugely exciting for us and working with the BBC VR Hub was been a fantastic experience.

“Initiatives like this really allow us to move forward on the primary goal of the company, which is to bring immersive technology to distance learning and to transform how people all over the world learn and experience events, both past and present,” he said.

Immersive VR Education, a previous Start-up of the Week on, was founded by husband-and-wife team David and Sandra Whelan.

The company recently raised £6m in a listing on Dublin’s Enterprise Securities Market and the AIM in London.

A spin-out from Waterford Institute of Technology’s research-based TSSG, Immersive VR Education’s platform provides VR content that can be used in schools, colleges, universities, research centres and corporate training to teach any subject in a virtual environment. Students can fully immerse themselves in the experience, making hard-to-visualise concepts easy to understand.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years