New post-COVID public VR entertainment offering
announced in West Midlands
- £1million investment in West Midlands VR business, expanding on B2B credentials
- Atmos VR providing expertise and vision for new public entertainment venture
- Digbeth, Birmingham, chosen for new LBE
Atmos VR has secured significant funding from Insight Media Fund. The £1million deal, negotiated by Samahoma Media Advisors, represents the Fund’s first investment in the fast-growing Location Based Entertainment (LBE) space. The Immersive Entertainment Industry was valued in 2018 at more than $4.5 billion globally.
Atmos VR founder, and former event technology strategist, Kevin Blair, brings long-term military and commercial expertise in the VR space to the LBE VR based immersive experience he has spent the last three years developing. This new multiplayer ‘free-roaming’ interactive game has been developed with post-COVID audiences in mind and will offer strictly player number-controlled, socially-distanced entertainment across the one-hour shows.
Insight Media Fund invests in media projects which have a defined audience potential and VR is an opportunity to achieve that. Samahoma Media Advisors search on behalf of the Fund led them to Atmos VR. Bob Clarke, CEO, Samahoma Media Advisors explains: “As part of the Fund’s focus on media investments for a post-COVID world, bringing back live events is very much on its agenda and free-roaming VR provides a genuine antidote to the reasonable lingering fears people may have of being part of an uncontrolled large audience crowd. Atmos VR has developed a cutting-edge proposition with plenty of hooks for repeat visits – with the Fund’s support we believe it can be scaled for a UK-wide rollout and international franchise opportunities.”
Kevin Blair, MD adds “Atmos VR’s aim is to bring creative content to life using the latest immersive technology, constantly evolving VR and beyond and pushing the experiential boundaries of immersive experiences. According to a recent study, three-quarters (76%) of immersive entertainment companies successfully have attendance up to 10,000 per year, meaning we can provide immersive experiences aimed at smaller audiences who are already seeking a more personal setting.
The first of eight planned venues will open in the West Midlands in Spring 2021 after Samahoma Media Advisors brought public entertainment specialists Britton McGrath Associates onboard to find locations for its post-COVID friendly offering, with ready access to a target audience that is robust, targetable and with disposable income for this kind of experience.
Jill Britton, Britton McGrath explains what they were looking for. “Our brief was to find workable spaces that are a better option than simply taking over an unused unit in a shopping mall. We wanted to find a focused audience to start with and build the business UK wide from this central hub.”
There are five million people living in the West Midlands providing a focused audience during Tiered restrictions and. Birmingham has been named the most entrepreneurial UK city outside of London with more than 14,500 business start-ups in 2019. Contracts have been finalised for a 10,000 sq. ft. warehouse at the Custard Factory in the Digbeth Canal Corridor regeneration zone. Once the first venue has been established, Atmos VR will be looking to expand across the country with locations in Tyne & Wear, Yorkshire, Merseyside, Glasgow, Cardiff and the South East being considered.
Atmos VR is set to join the largest regional tech and digital cluster outside of London, with the West Midlands Combined Authority area now home to 66,300 people employed across 12,500 tech and digital companies. The West Midlands Region economy is worth more than £141.4 billion.
Spending in the recreation sector was £10.5 billion in the UK in 2018. Whilst investment in the public entertainment sector has tended to focus on the heritage and family offering, there is enormous scope within the commercial sector to develop innovative and targeted high tech experiences for gamers and other younger audiences. The Fund hopes to help unlock opportunities in this sector.
Currently, there are around 5,700 locations worldwide where consumers can experience VR outside of their home. This number is expected to rise to 45,700 by the end of 2022.