UK VR tech startup receives $502 million investment from Softbank

British virtual reality startup, Improbable, has announced that it has raised USD 502m (GBP ) after a round of round of Series B funding led by Japanese multinational telecommunications company SoftBank, the company said.

The investment is thought to be the largest ever investment made in a fledgling European tech firm, according to The Guardian

Improbable said all the funds will be invested in developing the company’s technology, including its SpatialOS distributed operating system. Improbable’s plans include accelerated recruitment in its London and San Francisco offices, and investments to develop a vibrant ecosystem of developers and customers.

“This investment reflects the potential size and importance of the market for this next generation of games and, ultimately, how massive-scale virtual worlds could become fundamental to how society works,” Herman Narula, CEO of Improbable said.

SoftBank is a perfect partner for us, with many complementary investments in their portfolio. This investment will allow us to take the big, bold steps needed to fully realise our vision.”

Improbable has also said it will explore and identify opportunities for mutually beneficial relationships with SoftBank, its partners and portfolio companies.

About Improbable

Improbable was co-founded in 2012 by a group of Cambridge University computer science graduates. It uses cloud-based distributed computing to enable the creation of virtual worlds for use in games and massive-scale simulations of the real world.

Its first product, SpatialOS, a distributed operating system for massive-scale simulations created using Improbable’s technology, integrates with major game engines and has been in live beta since March.

“Because the work of maintaining game worlds and tracking activities within them is managed and distributed across the cloud using SpatialOS, multiplayer and massively multiplayer games can be created and scaled by teams of any size, without dedicated network engineering and without initial infrastructure costs,” the company said in a press release.

“Developers are already using SpatialOS to build a range of different types of games which take advantage of its ability to manage larger scale, higher player numbers and easy scaling in a seamless virtual world.”

Real-world applications

Improbable says it is also applying the same technology that powers SpatialOS to the simulation of complex real world systems. Potential applications include simulating transport infrastructure, telecommunications networks or the behaviour of fleets of autonomous vehicles.

“Beyond gaming, this new form of simulation on a massive scale has the potential to help us make better decisions about the world we live in, Deep Nishar, managing director of Softbank, said, “Improbable’s technology will help us explore disease, improve cities, understand economies and solve complex problems on a previously unimaginable scale.”

Sources: Improbable, The Guardian

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