Immersive technology developers are in need of detailed legal and business advice in order to effectively scale and commercialise their products, services and solutions

With virtual reality and augmented reality set to add £1.4 trillion to the global economy by 2030, the technologies’ developers are on the cusp of creating an immersive future for the world.

But how do immersive technology startups become incumbents? Where do they get funding they need to launch? What legal challenges are there to becoming successful?

Immersive technology developers are in need of detailed legal and business advice in order to effectively scale and commercialise their products, services and solutions.

They also need to know the lay of the land, understand how their peers are establishing themselves and figure out how to stand out in an increasingly competitive landscape.

Funding

Investors are well aware of the potential of immersive technology for enterprise. They’ll see numbers like those above in their own research and will be looking for the next best developer to back.

What kind of investment will work best for you? Immersive VR Education sold a stake in its business to HTC Vive, an immersive technology peer, customer and vocal proponent of its Engage platform.

That relationship is almost symbiotic, with hardware and software providers each needing the other to establish their respective products and services for enterprise customers.

Proprio launched a series A funding round and secured $23 million from venture capital investors, presumably in return for equity.

That capital will be used to expand development teams, accelerate clinical and regulatory timelines, build commercialisation capabilities and secure customers.

No business will get off the ground without funding and relinquishing a stake in your company could yield not only much needed capital, but the expertise and experience of an external investor could prove invaluable in the years to come.

When external funding dried up at the onset of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, Augmedics raised $15 million through a series B round led by its US staff.

The unusual move saw the company’s employees form a limited liability company, AUG Management LLC, to raise $4 million in an effort to secure and successfully launch Augmedics as venture capital all but evaporated because of the pandemic.

Many immersive technology developers will have closely knit teams at their heart. Turning to your colleagues at a time of need could secure your future and bring everyone together.

Legal

Running and operating a successful immersive technology business takes more than invention and ingenuity. You need to understand the consequences of your decisions and tread carefully.

Take the example of the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium, which saw Ford, Siemens, Airbus and others use PTC’s Vuforia Expert Capture AR technology and Microsoft’s HoloLens to capture the key assembly steps and processes involved in building rapidly manufactured ventilator systems.

Simon Portman, a commercial contract and non-contentious intellectual property lawyer and head of Marks & Clerk’s XR team, pointed out that while this immersion can lead to a huge amount of innovation and creativity as everybody dives into the virtual sandbox, participants should not forget that they are engaged in a project just as formal as any laboratory or office-based activity.

Who is responsible for doing what, what happens if they don’t do it, licensing and non-disclosure obligations, and who has what ownership and exploitation rights over the project—results still need to be enshrined in a properly drafted collaboration agreement so that there is no ambiguity or scope for a dispute further down the line.

Questions abound for any budding business: what kind of insurance do you need? Are your intellectual property assets sufficiently protected? What are the clauses at play in contracts with customers?

Remember, do not sell immersion without information.

Acquisitions

Every acquisition will be unique, but immersive technology tends to lean toward incumbent acquiring startup.

Unity bolstered its immersive technology capabilities for enterprise with the acquisition of Canada-based studio Finger Food Advanced Technology Group.

This acquisition strengthened Unity’s offering for enterprise customers, which it has courted as it has built its foundation in gaming and extended into industries such as media, entertainment, automotive, transportation, manufacturing, architecture, engineering and construction.

Your technology may be the missing piece of the puzzle for an incumbent and technology has a long tradition of innovation by acquisition.

If your product or service is unique and successful, it won’t be long before interested parties make their admiration known.

Of course, it isn’t just technology that motivates an acquisition. For the acquired, and aside from the obvious financial benefits, the acquirer may have the resources to match their ambition.

When Pokémon Go creator Niantic acquired 6D.ai, the startup’s chief executive officer said the acquisition would provide it with more reach, strengthen its resources, and bring together some of the best minds in both AR software development and research.

Their combination was “a major step for the AR industry as we get even closer toward building the 3D map of the world”.

There is so much more to the business of immersive technology. VRWorldTech will regularly update this page as new and emerging trends become clear.

For now, if there is something you think should be mentioned here, let VRWorldTech know via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or editor@vrworldtech.com.

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