Irish-based virtual reality simulation company VRAI has raised €3.4 million in funding as it brings its technology to the offshore wind industry.
The funding round was led by Northstar Ventures, an English-based venture capital company, and will be focused on targeting training in the growing renewable energy industry in Europe, in addition to growing VRAI’s existing business in aerospace, defence and security.
VRAI’s technology uses virtual reality combined with data capture, analysis and machine learning to measure, evaluate and predict human performance and improve training outcomes.
“I strongly believe that dual-use technologies such as ours can be a source of competitive advantage for our society. This investment allows us to help scale the offshore wind workforce, which is critical to society’s plans for transitioning from fossil fuel dependency,” VRAI managing director Pat O’Connor said. “Our products will also help to ensure our military personnel have the very best training and insights, at a lower cost and with lower carbon footprint, in the face of increasingly complex operational environments.”
The company expects the move into the new market will add further growth to the business and lead to the expansion of its workforce. It is targeting the creation of up to 10 jobs in the company’s Ireland and UK offices over the next 12 months.
“The northeast region has been instrumental in developing the offshore wind sector, delivering clean energy and green growth, and partnerships like the one between VRAI and local industry help ensure the UK stays at the forefront of global innovation in renewables,” said Northstar Ventures investment manager Alex Buchan. “With an impressive track record in cutting edge VR technologies, we are pleased to support VRAI in scaling up this innovation to train the UK’s offshore wind workforce and create more high-quality jobs in the northeast.”
In July, VRAI announced it had partnered with BAE Systems to develop new training methods for militaries to allow soldiers to take part in complex collective scenarios in a secure environment. The partnership will also see the two companies develop a metaverse that would allow air, land, sea, space and cyber forces to train alongside each other in a single virtual world.
Simulation and virtual training provides the opportunity for people to train in a wide variety of scenarios and hazardous environments, without exposing them to the risk of those scenarios, and while reducing the level of wear and tear on equipment.