Irish VR firm tasked with hosting major UN-backed summit

5 Oct 2020

Pre-production image of the UN Global Youth Takeover event with Pitbull. Image: VR Education

Waterford company VR Education will use its Engage platform to host a major online event backed by the UN, WHO and others.

An Irish company working in the virtual reality (VR) space will bring its technology to a global audience later this month. Waterford-based VR Education has revealed that its Engage platform – created to host virtual events, virtual training and distance learning – will be used at the upcoming Younga event held from 24 to 25 October.

Led by a group called BridgingTheGap Ventures, the event includes support from the UN, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Economic Forum. It will feature speakers including WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and journalist Siyabulela Mandela, and a virtual performance from musician Pitbull.

It comes not long after VR Education’s Engage technology was used to host the first VR event for the European Commission on 30 September, with 70 delegates taking part.

Using the company’s platform, delegates were able to hold private conversations in a large virtual exhibit hall and attend talks from keynote speakers. The company said it is actively working with the commission in the hope of securing contracts for other events it may be hosting.

Growing interest in VR

Commenting on the UN event, VR Education CEO David Whelan said: “With almost all physical events on hold for the foreseeable future, there has been a big increase in major organisations wanting to host virtual events. We are delighted the UN has chosen the Engage platform to host its annual global youth takeover.

“We designed Engage primarily as a communications tool for education and training, but we have quickly adapted it to address the needs of a variety of industries and event organisers as they look to generate revenue in this lockdown world.”

The company also said the platform has been used by a growing number of global companies and organisations for virtual training and events, including Facebook, Ericsson and the US Air Force.

Many of these deals originated through the company’s partnership with HTC, which was announced in May of this year. After a €3m investment, HTC took a 20pc stake in VR Education and appointed a non-executive director to the Irish company’s board.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic