immerseUK News letter

The network now has just under 400 members. Around 70% of you are in business, 20% are from universities and research centres, 5% from government or public sector backgrounds, and a further 5% from not-for-profit and cultural organisations. 

Over 100 people from across those groups came to our first members' meeting on December 7th at the Digital Catapult. Following presentations from some of Immerse UK’s founding partners as well as two of the key platform providers (HTC and Holovis), there was a series of round-table conversations about our priorities. 

The key topics identified as ones where Immerse UK can make a difference are: 
- access to finance, funding and investment
- content, production and user experience
- connecting industry and universities (skills and research)
- industrial applications
- mapping activity in the UK

Members made many suggestions for what we might do in each of those areas and the Steering Group is now developing plans for the next few months. We have nominated co-ordinators for each strand of activity and we're interested in hearing from members who would like to be involved in working groups to support them or can provide support or resource. 

Working Groups and Future Activity

Access to Finance and Funding
Immerse UK will work with investors and funders in the UK and other countries to make them aware of the opportunities and needs of SMEs building businesses on the applications of VR/AR and other immersive technologies across a range of markets. As well as advising public sector agencies such as Innovate UK and Horizon 2020, where we've already had significant success, we'll work to connect members with angels, VCs, and commissioners. 

We are currently planning an event with VCs for the first quarter of 2017 in collaboration with PwC; we'll send out more information about this early in the New Year. We're also working with a European network, the NEM Initiative, to explore the feasibility of establishing a pan-European network of financiers focussing on VR/AR.

Mapping Immersive activities in the UK
One of the objectives of ImmerseUK is to map current expertise and activities related to VR/AR technologies. This map will support understanding of current UK expertise and facilities, to help companies gain access to the support they need, and also to link our members.
We would ideally like to create a web-based map to show the following information for each member: academia/industry; VR/AR facilities; application areas; expertise; sector; etc. We would also like to provide search facility. The map must be: 1. easy to update/populate; 2. accessible; 3. visually attractive; and 4. easy to understand and use. 

We need help from ImmerseUK members to understand the best way to provide this tool.

Content, Production and User Experience
Two main themes were raised in the members’ discussion around content: standards and “how can AV/VR be explored to the boundaries of its potential experience, rather than using the grammar and content of games, web or 2D content”. What are the specific affordances of AR and VR that are more than the sum of the parts from TV, Film, Games and internet?

In the conversation around production, issues raised included the reduction of costs, and the need to educate and engage content providers working in other media.

The working group in this area is also being co-ordinated by the Digital Catapult and KTN. If you are interested in being involved in the development of this please contact me. 

Connecting industry and academia (skills and research) 
Universities were well represented at the meeting last week and Immerse UK continues to attract members from across academia. Glyn Lawson from Nottingham, who has submitted a bid to the EPSRC to fund networking across the academic community and between universities and business, is also leading the working group for this activity. 
Industrial Applications - co-ordinated by IET and High Value Manufacturing Catapult
The discussion on industrial applications of vr and related technologies was hosted by Ahmed Kotb who co-ordinates the IET's Applied Visualisation Community. The IET will be working with the High Value Manufacturing Catapult to lead much of Immerse UK’s activity in this area. 

We’re also in the early stages of planning an event focused on the construction industry which is likely to be held in April or May 2017.

We've now completed the first iteration of the Immerse UK website, established groups on LinkedIn, a Facebook page, and a presence on Twitter. Please do join these groups and contribute to the conversations in them.

Transforming products and services 
Innovate UK has up to £15 million to support the best business-led and innovative ideas for new products, processes and services. This competition is the second of 2 annual Innovate UK open competitions that support good ideas with market potential from any technology area.

Ideas can come from any technology, engineering or industrial area. They can fit in with Innovate UK's 4 priority sectors for growth - emerging and enabling technologies, health and life sciences, infastructure systems, and manufacturing and materials - or be outside them. Proposals must be transformational or disruptive innovation and must have a clear commercial impact and potential for return on investment.

Projects that are likely to lead to a sustainable growth in productivity or access to new overseas markets will be given priority.

More info can be found here.

Immerse UK has come quite a long way in a relatively short time. We plan to do much more in 2017; do let us know if you would like to be more involved in any of those activities.