Charlie Taylor | August, 2020

Irish virtual reality remote training simulation provider sees surge in demand

VRAI, a Dublin-based virtual reality remote training simulation provider, has secured €1.2 million in seed funding from angel investors and Enterprise Ireland.

The start-up, which is chaired by former Bord na Móna chief executive Gabriel D’Arcy, has also appointed Davy as it begins talks with institutional investors about a larger fundraise.

The move comes as the company seeks to respond to a surge in demand for its solutions on the back of the coronavirus pandemic.

Co-founded by Niall Campion and Pat O’Connor, VRAI has developed a virtual reality (VR) focused training platform used by customers that include the Irish Defence Forces, the United NationsDublin BusSamsungKingspan and Jameson.

Its flagship Hazardous Environment Awareness Training (Heat) solution allows employers to prepare people working in dangerous situations and environments remotely.

According to Mr O’Connor, the firm believes it has the ideal solution for companies struggling to train staff safely in the midst of Covid-19.

“We were building our technology to be ready for a market that we didn’t expect to be ready for maybe two or three years but the coronavirus pandemic has brought things forward and wider adoption of VR solutions is ramping up,” he said.

“Potential customers that we were talking to a while back were asking us why they would consider simulation training when they could do it for real, whereas now they are clamouring to do it,” he added.

Full training solutions

The company initially focused on making VR content but last year pivoted to providing full training solutions.

“We had a lightbulb moment where we realised that not only is VR a great way to train people and push data to them but that there is also an incredible IoT capability built into the headsets so what we’ve done is use that to create a data pipeline.

“The result is that when people are training, we’re gathering about 100,000 data points per minute which, after using data analytics and machine learning algorithms, can unlock additional insights, such as indicating at what points people are likely to make errors,” said Mr O’Connor.

“We believe the training we are offering is inherently better than that provided elsewhere. If you create highly authentic virtual worlds as we are doing, the training is both more engaging and effective,” he added.

VRAI intends to use the funding it has recently received to invest further in its technology and to increase headcount. The company employs 12 people.

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