Birmingham City University to use VR to encourage business growth

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Birmingham City University has received £3.4 million in funding to create a new centre that will boost business growth and support innovation using technologies such as virtual reality (VR).

Quick read

➨ The centre will house state-of-the-art equipment such as VR development packs, computer hardboards and the latest design software

➨ Funding was secured from the EU’s European Structural and Investment Funds, Birmingham City University and Eastside Projects

➨ Facilities will be created to provide access to the latest in VR, augmented and mixed reality technology

The story

The centre, based at the university’s STEAMhouse facility in Birmingham’s Digbeth district, will house state-of-the-art equipment such as VR development packs, computer hardboards and the latest design software.

It will also see the opening of a new digital design suite at the site.

Funding for the project was secured from the EU’s European Structural and Investment Funds, Birmingham City University and Eastside Projects.

The project will provide training for businesses on some of the newest and emerging technologies, providing a platform for innovation, the development of new ideas and the creation of new startups.

Facilities will be created to provide access to the latest in VR, augmented and mixed reality technology, as well as new digital circuitry and digital design services, alongside a full programme of business support.

Businesses will be given training in the use of the technologies as well as a range of collaborative opportunities based at STEAMhouse.

Professor Julian Beer, deputy vice-chancellor at Birmingham City University, said of the new centre: “We opened STEAMhouse to provide a space and a platform for businesses to collaborate with artists and academics, to drive innovation and new business ideas.”

“This funding will allow us to provide a new wave of state-of-the-art equipment which will have a major impact on how businesses work in the future and the creation of new industries.”

Beer continued: “Technology like virtual reality, augmented reality, 5G and digital design will pave the way for the business of the future and now is the time for us to look at how we can harness this for the benefit of the economy.”

The next phase of the STEAMhouse project is currently underway, which will see redevelopment of a historic Birmingham building.

It will include a special programme called ‘STEAMincubator’, which will provide new spaces, facilities and collaboration opportunities for startups.

Since opening its first phase in Digbeth, STEAMhouse has already helped create more than 50 new regional businesses, created more than 25 new research partnerships and invested nearly £70,000 in financial support.

Image credit: Birmingham City University