VR Startups: Top 15 Virtual Reality Companies That Will Change Tech Forever
The Virtual Reality landscape is evolving at a breakneck pace, with its ripple effects being felt across multiple sectors.
As we delve into the next phase of digital transformation, VR technologies are at the forefront, morphing our interaction with digital realms and promising an immersive future. The statistics underline a burgeoning industry poised for significant leaps in the coming years.
The global VR market is on a robust growth trajectory with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.5% anticipated from 2023 to 2030. This momentum is further echoed by projections indicating that the market size for both Augmented Reality (AR) and VR is set to skyrocket to approximately $296.9 billion by 2024.
The adoption and utilization of VR technologies are not confined to any particular domain. About 42.9 million individuals in the US engage with VR at least once a month, with gaming and entertainment media holding a significant 40.5% share of the VR market. These figures underscore the pervasive influence and the immense potential harbored by VR technologies.
In this article:
VR: What’s around the corner?
The immediate future of Virtual Reality (VR) is poised to be exciting and transformative, driven by groundbreaking innovations from major tech conglomerates and the evolution of photorealistic modeling technologies.
Apple’s Vision PRO, a mixed reality system that combines augmented and virtual reality, will be launched in early 2024. Despite its high price, Apple’s experience in dominating the market sets the stage for the headset to transform digital interactions as we currently understand them.
Almost in tandem, Meta released its own virtual reality headset, the Meta Quest 3, on October 10th. The device is reasonably priced and offers users more extensive and enhanced interactions with the virtual world. Its mission is not solely about having better gaming or immersive experiences, but about creating a world where interactions with the virtual realm are as intuitive and organic as they are in the physical world – the Metaverse.
The future looks even more exciting with the introduction of photorealistic modeling. The ability to create and transfer photorealistic models into VR is a game-changing advancement, recently showcased in a pioneering metaverse interview between Lex Fridman and Mark Zuckerberg. Despite being physically apart, the two appeared to each other as photorealistic Codec Avatars in 3D with spatial audio, conducting the world’s first Metaverse podcast. This interaction highlighted the remarkable potential of VR to host realistic, immersive conversations and experiences, blending the real and the virtual in a manner that was previously unattainable.
These developments underscore the rapid pace at which the VR landscape is evolving, pushing the boundaries of immersion, interaction, and realism in the virtual domain. What was once escapist entertainment now begins to take the form of practical and natural interactions in an electronically enhanced reality.
15 VR startups to keep an eye on
In light of the above, our list of 15 VR startups is more than just a peek at the companies that are shaping the VR space; it’s a window into the future of digital interaction and immersive user experiences.
As you go through this list, you’ll find startups that are innovating and pushing beyond the boundaries of what’s possible in VR, while also transforming the way we interact with digital environments.
Each of them displays a different approach to harnessing the power of VR, demonstrating the limitless potential of this technology.
#1 Gravity Sketch
- Sector: Product Design
- Year founded: 2014
- Location: London, England
- Founders: Daniel Thomas, Daniela Paredes, Oluwaseyi Sosanya
- Last funding round: Series A, £25M in April 2022
- Official website: gravitysketch.com
Gravity Sketch’s cloud-based platform supports the creation of concept sketches, reviewing designs, and building 3D models. It wants to be known for its intuitive user experience and is compatible with various devices, including AR and VR headsets, which enable a more immersive design experience. Besides traditional 3D design, it provides a virtual studio where designers can create, communicate, and share at every step of the design workflow.
The startup has built a solution that addresses the traditionally arduous process of translating hand-drawn sketches to digital files, especially in the early stages of design. It aims to eliminate miscommunications and inefficiencies often encountered in the design process by enabling earlier collaboration and visualizations in 3D from the outset.
As of the latest funding round, Gravity Sketch had garnered over 100,000 users, including design teams from prominent firms like Adidas, Reebok, Volkswagen, and Ford. It’s not just targeting the commercial world; about 170 educational institutions are also utilizing Gravity Sketch to complement their programs.
The startup secured $33 million in a Series A funding round led by Accel to expand its platform’s functionality and continue developing its collaborative features, particularly the LandingPad feature which supports “non-designer” stakeholders in the design process. With this funding, the company plans to enhance its platform’s creative tools and scale its sales, customer success, and onboarding teams.
- Sector: Quantum computing
- Year founded: 2021
- Location: Tampere, Finland
- Founders: Asser Lähdemäki, Dr. Alexandre Halbach, Dr. Valtteri Lahtinen, Juha Riippi
- Last funding round: Seed, €3.900M in April 2023
- Official website: quanscient.com
Quanscient is a startup aimed at accelerating hardware development, making it more efficient and sustainable. It focuses on solving complex simulations in hardware development through automation, with an emphasis on delivering quality services to its clients.
Quanscient is forging ahead in the creation of next-generation simulation software, leveraging the cloud to facilitate multiphysics simulations which help customers get their products to market quicker and more efficiently.
Notably, Quanscient is also venturing into the realm of quantum computing. It is developing new quantum algorithms to be among the first to utilize Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) computers for commercial applications.
Moreover, the startup is working on reinventing simulations for the quantum era via its proprietary QSaaS platform. This platform aids in expediting the time-to-market for customers’ products through Finite Element Method (FEM)-based simulations, specializing in computational electromagnetics and fluid dynamics.
#3 Oxford Medical Simulation
- Sector: Education, Healthcare
- Year founded: 2017
- Location: London, England
- Founders: Jack Pottle, Michael Wallace
- Last funding round: Seed, £2.1M in October 2022
- Official website: oxfordmedicalsimulation.com
Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS) is a pioneering enterprise in the domain of medical education, leveraging cutting-edge technology to provide Virtual Reality medical simulation for healthcare professionals globally. They address the challenge that, while medical simulation is highly effective for training, it is often expensive, has low throughput, and is not widely accessible, making it a hurdle for healthcare workers to receive the necessary training for optimal patient care.
OMS has developed a simulation platform that presents realistic scenarios for doctors and nurses, where they need to manage patients, perform investigations, instigate treatment, and interact with their interdisciplinary teams, all against the clock. The VR-based platform allows for immersive, engaging, and evidence-based healthcare learning, designed by medical professionals and endorsed by various hospitals and universities.
The company is recognized as a multi-award-winning enterprise and has secured partnerships with NHS Trusts and US universities. Their efforts are geared towards addressing a multi-billion dollar market that’s growing at a significant rate. OMS raised £2.1 million in funding to further its mission, with the investment coming from ACF Investors and angel investor Dr. Nicolaus Henke. The funding aims to help scale its US expansion.
#4 Amelia Virtual Care
- Sector: Healthcare
- Year founded: 2013
- Location: Barcelona, Spain
- Founders: Xavier Palomer
- Last funding round: Convertible Note, €7M in June 2022
- Official website: ameliavirtualcare.com
Amelia Virtual Care provides a VR platform with over 70 virtual environments and scenes, aiming to treat a wide array of mental health pathologies. Therapists can utilize multiple therapeutic techniques including psychoeducation, gradual exposure, systematic desensitization, relaxation, distraction, acceptance and commitment, mindfulness, and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).
The platform serves as a powerful, user-friendly, and cost-effective tool to facilitate remote care while creating more immersive therapeutic experiences. It is engineered to enhance the value of mental health treatment by offering a simple control panel, complete VR equipment, and multiple features to efficiently manage therapy sessions. It’s an accessible tool for mental health professionals to incorporate into their practices.
Amelia collaborates closely with leading public and private institutions to advance research and promote evidence-based care for improved mental health outcomes. It allows professionals to address a vast range of mental health disorders, including common phobias, anxiety, and depression, hence broadening the scope and effectiveness of mental health therapies.
Amelia Virtual Care has expanded to have offices in Barcelona and Mountain View, reflecting its growing footprint in the mental health technology space.
- Sector: Real estate
- Year founded: 2019
- Location: Lublin, Poland
- Founders: Dimitri Khlopkov, Tarsa Gopko, Igor Yavorski, Liza Khlopkova
- Last funding round: $310,000 grant from Unicorn Hub
- Official website: vrpartments.com
VRpartments provides a platform allowing users to browse and furnish apartments virtually, without the need to physically visit the locations. Users can teleport into each room and walk through the apartments, experiencing a new level of apartment browsing.
The product includes a conversion engine that transforms 2D PDFs into interactive 3D models using specific algorithms. It utilizes VR technology to enable users to visualize apartments from the comfort of their homes or anywhere else, significantly reducing the time traditionally required to view properties in person. The platform is designed to offer a user-friendly and engaging experience, making the process of browsing and furnishing apartments a breeze, all from a mobile device or computer.
VRpartments, a Ukrainian project, was recognized with a $310,000 grant from a Poland-based incubator, Unicorn Hub, showcasing its potential and the value it brings to the real estate sector.
By offering a virtual solution to property viewing and furnishing, VRpartments is positioning itself as a modern realtor tool that could potentially revolutionize the real estate industry, making property viewing more convenient, time-efficient, and immersive.
We often see our clients only considering the technology aspect of VR products, ignoring the importance of user-centric design. It is crucial to approach development with a well-rounded perspective by combining technological innovation with intuitive, user-friendly experiences. This ensures not only market entry but also continued engagement: the business will be prepared for long-lasting success and not just temporary hype. CEO, ASPER BROTHERS Let's Talk
#6 Veris Behavior
- Sector: Marketing
- Year founded: 2021
- Location: San Sebastián, Spain
- Founders: Alekos Martínez
- Last funding round: Pre-seed, €88,000 in January 2022
- Official website: verisbehavior.com
Veris Behavior is a startup that integrates Virtual Reality, Neuromarketing, and Data technology to conduct in-depth consumer studies.
The goal is to assist companies in the retail, consumer goods, hospitality, food, and pharmaceutical sectors in validating their commercial and marketing strategies before launching them. Veris Behavior offers a VR shopping platform that facilitates virtual shopping experiences, allowing companies to understand consumer preferences better.
The startup utilizes VR and neuromarketing for market research within immersive stores, providing a unique way to conceptualize and validate the effectiveness of marketing and innovation actions. They leverage VR glasses and eye-tracking devices to create an immersive shopping experience, which enables them to collect valuable consumer data and insights.
Veris Behavior provides a novel approach to market research which allows for immersive consumer studies that can yield more accurate and insightful data compared to traditional methods. The immersive stores created within their platform mimic real shopping experiences.
- Sector: Hospitality
- Year founded: 2014
- Location: London, England
- Founders: James South
- Last funding round: Crowdfunding, $1.7 million
- Official website: igoroom.com
Igoroom’s platform provides 360-degree virtual reality tours of luxury hotels and resorts, enabling users to explore these properties virtually before making a booking decision. It showcases a selection of forward-thinking luxury hotels including Six Senses, Shangri-La, Soneva, Hyatt, Kerzner International, Dubai’s Atlantis, the Palm, Cora Cora, and Joali in the Maldives among others.
Igoroom plans to monetize its app by taking commissions on bookings made through the platform, aligning with the revenue model of current online travel agents.
The application of VR technology in the booking process is recognized as a significant innovation in the travel industry, not only enhancing the booking journey but also allowing hotels to offer a more interactive and engaging booking experience. A study by PwC in 2019 discovered that at least eight global leading hotel chains had already integrated VR experiences in their marketing strategies, resulting in up to a 135% increase in online revenue for hotels using virtual tours.
The platform is expected to launch soon, marking a new era in travel and setting a completely new standard in travel booking.
- Sector: Education
- Year founded: 2014
- Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
- Founders: Mads Tvillinggaard Bonde, Michael Bodekaer, Tobias Aabye Dam
- Last funding round: Series C, €42.8M in April 2022
- Official website: labster.com
Labster is a startup focused on revolutionizing the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) learning experience through a blend of virtual reality and interactive simulations.
Labster aims to create a globally scalable, engaging, and accessible STEM learning experience. It develops fully interactive advanced lab simulations to create scalable science training software, which is designed to accelerate science teaching and enhance learning outcomes.
Labster utilizes a game-based approach to deliver its educational content, thereby making learning more enjoyable and effective. The virtual labs allow students and educators to visualize abstract theories, train lab skills, and learn science through real-world scenarios in a more engaging manner.
Labster has successfully secured significant funding to bolster its mission. It raised $60 million in a Series C round led by Andreessen Horowitz, bringing the company’s total funding to $100 million. This capital is intended to expand Labster’s reach, bringing its award-winning virtual laboratory simulations to more students globally.
- Sector: Fashion
- Year founded: 2020
- Location: London, England
- Founders: Charli Cohen
- Last funding round: Seed, $3.5M in March 2022
- Official website: rstlss.xyz
The platform provided by RSTLSS allows artists, brands, and influencers to create and sell multiverse fashion through an engaging, gamified experience. Moreover, RSTLSS is geared toward growing crypto-native brands and onboarding traditional intellectual properties (IPs) into the metaverse via curated Non-Fungible Token (NFT) drops.
The platform indulges users in visual and auditory storytelling combined with interactive minigames and animations, showcasing the technology and out-of-the-box thinking behind a disruptive Web3 brand. It is also pioneering in powering next-gen wearables for Web3 and In Real Life (IRL) applications.
The broader mission of RSTLSS is to provide a platform that enables people to express their identity freely and fluidly across various domains, leveraging the power of the metaverse to redefine how individuals interact with fashion and identity expression.
RSTLSS has successfully garnered funding to fuel its mission, with a notable seed round that raised $3.5 million led by BITKRAFT Ventures. This round also attracted angel investors including notable personalities like Paris Hilton and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin among others.
- Sector: Image Recognition
- Year founded: 2018
- Location: Talinn, Estonia
- Founders: Gholamreza Anbarjafari, Madis Alesmaa, Mariliis Retter, Rait-Eino Laarmann
- Last funding round: Convertible Note, €850K in September 2023
- Official website: alpha3d.io
Alpha3D is a startup that has developed a generative AI-powered platform to facilitate the transformation of text prompts or 2D images into 3D digital assets within minutes, without requiring users to have any 3D modeling knowledge. These assets can then be utilized across various domains like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Virtual Try-On (VTO), gaming, the metaverse, or as Non-Fungible Tokens.
The proprietary AI technology underpinning Alpha3D’s platform was developed internally, leveraging millions of data assets to scale the platform. It can read information from a 2D image and construct a 3D image within a few seconds, providing a quick and efficient method for creating 3D digital assets.
Alpha3D has raised close to $2 million in funding to date. Among its investors are venture capitalists and angel investors like Sebastien Borget, co-founder and COO of The Sandbox; Taavi Rõivas, former prime minister of Estonia; and others from Meta, Slack, and PwC.
Alpha3D launched in mid-March and has close to 100,000 platform users, with a month-over-month growth rate of about 40% to 45%. It has been working with more than 35 companies including Nvidia, The Sandbox, and LVMH.
In the future, Alpha3D intends to focus on integration and plugging its technology into different infrastructures, envisioning itself as an infrastructure layer for numerous businesses. The primary aim is to alleviate the content creation bottleneck faced by many brands and gaming companies, providing an easier pathway to generate environments and assets for immersive experiences.
#11 Sandbox VR
- Sector: Entertainment
- Year founded: 2016
- Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
- Founders: Steve Zhao
- Last funding round: Series B, $37M in November 2021
- Official website: sandboxvr.com
Sandbox VR provides a platform that offers immersive social experiences through a combination of full-body motion capture and VR technologies, allowing players to step into another world and interact with their friends.
The startup develops its own games and technology, unlike other competitors that operate with licensed games. Sandbox VR currently offers five VR games designed for groups of up to 6 individuals, where participants can physically interact with everyone inside a virtual environment, similar to living inside a game or movie.
The technology used by Sandbox VR includes real-time multiplayer inverse kinematics technology to capture, animate, and render people with full-body motion capture in virtual reality. The hardware utilized comprises head-mounted VR headsets, backpack computers, motion capture sensors, and haptic vests for players, enhancing the immersive experience.
Sandbox VR generated $23 million over a 12-month period. By June 2023, it had 42 retail locations with seven more planned. The company has witnessed substantial growth with close to 100,000 platform users and a significant month-over-month growth rate. It has collaborated with more than 35 companies including big names like Nvidia, Netflix, and LVMH.
Sandbox VR secured a significant amount of funding, having raised $37 million in a Series B funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz, and has raised approximately $119 million in total funding to date. The funding is aimed at expanding its operations globally.
#12 XYZ Reality
- Sector: Construction
- Year founded: 2017
- Location: London, England
- Founders: David Mitchell, Murray Hendriksen, Umar Ahmed
- Last funding round: Series A, £20M in June 2021
- Official website: xyzreality.com
XYZ Reality was envisioned by a former architect who aimed to address the challenges of building from 2D drawings which he found to be an unnatural language for humans.
This frustration led to the novel idea of building from holograms, which over the years evolved into a pioneering augmented reality (AR) solution for the construction industry. Thus, XYZ Reality developed the world’s first Engineering Grade Augmented Reality device known as HoloSite.
The device significantly reduces construction costs by up to 20% as it enables users to walk on-site and view their 3D Building Information Modeling (BIM) Model with millimeter accuracy. This eradicates disputes and tolerance errors, allowing real-time validations and immediate decision-making in the field during all construction phases, making the construction journey safer and more efficient, reducing waste, and de-risking processes.
XYZ Reality is making notable strides in the construction industry. Its Atom headset, which goes hand in hand with its HoloSite AR platform, was released following a £20 million Series A funding round led by European-focused venture firm Octopus Ventures. This funding aims to accelerate the deployment of its AR technology in the construction sector across North America.
The startup has been recognized for its innovative approach to on-site productivity, winning the “Mission Critical Tech Innovation” award at the DCD Global 2022 Awards and the accolade for “Digital innovation in on-site productivity” at the Digital Construction Awards.
#13 Anything World
- Sector: Entertainment
- Year founded: 2018
- Location: London, England
- Founders: Gordon Midwood, Sebastian Hofer
- Last funding round: Seed, $7.5M in November 2022
- Official website: anything.world
Anything World developed a platform that facilitates the creation of 3D objects and animations through a combination of AI, natural language understanding, computer vision, and extensive 3D libraries. Users can request, see, manipulate, and experience virtually anything they can think of, providing a fast and convenient way for creators to craft limitless AI-driven 3D voice experiences. By automating the process of 3D object creation, it provides an avenue for creativity and exploration.
Anything World has created a unique blend of technologies. Besides features like “Animate Anything” which allows users to animate their own 3D models using AI, the startup offers game-ready Software Development Kits (SDKs), enabling game developers and 3D animators to leverage the capabilities of Anything World in their projects.
With its innovative platform, Anything World is targeting a broad audience, including game developers, 3D animators, and any individuals or entities interested in creating or experiencing 3D objects and animations. The startup has made its platform accessible and user-friendly, promoting a community of creators and providing resources like a knowledge hub and a blog to assist users in making the most out of the platform.
#14 First Light Fusion
- Sector: Renewable energy
- Year founded: 2011
- Location: Yarnton, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
- Founders: Nicholas Hawker, Yiannis Ventikos
- Last funding round: Series C, $45M in February 2022
- Official website: firstlightfusion.com
First Light Fusion’s core mission is to address the global energy challenge through fusion power. They’ve embarked on an approach known as projectile fusion, a form of inertial fusion, aiming to be more energy-efficient, simpler, and have lower physics risk compared to traditional methods.
Their unique target and projectile technology are central to this approach. By compressing the fusion fuel inside a target using a projectile at high velocity, they aim to create the necessary conditions for fusion to occur. First Light Fusion utilized a two-stage hyper-velocity gas gun to launch a projectile at a target containing fusion fuel, which, on impact, triggered the fusion process.
First Light Fusion’s achievement is a significant milestone validated by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). This validation confirmed that First Light produced neutrons consistent with the fusion of deuterium fuel. Their achievement was also recognized by the UK’s Business & Energy Secretary, who acknowledged the potential of First Light Fusion’s technology to revolutionize power production in the future.
The startup has outlined plans for a “gain” experiment, aiming for more energy output than input, and is working towards developing a pilot plant by the 2030s. They also envisage a high value-added consumables business model, partnering with power plant operators as the fuel provider in the form of targets, showcasing not just the environmental but also the commercial benefits of their fusion power approach.
The startup is in the Series C funding stage, indicating a significant level of investment and progress towards realizing its mission of offering a glimpse of a sustainable and economically viable fusion power solution.
- Sector: Healthcare
- Year founded: 2015
- Location: Brussels, Belgium
- Founders: Diane Jooris, Gerald de Patoul, Julien Tesse, Mario Huyghe
- Last funding round: Series A, €10M in September 2020
- Official website: https://www.oncomfort.com/
Oncomfort pioneered a unique solution known as Digital Sedation to alleviate pain and anxiety experienced by patients before, during, and after medical procedures, all without the use of medication.
Oncomfort was founded by Diane Jooris, who, inspired by her sister’s battle with breast cancer, aimed to leverage her hypnotherapy expertise to aid patients facing pain and anxiety. The mission of Oncomfort is to make Digital Sedation accessible to as many patients as possible, offering them relief from pain and anxiety using efficient and evidence-based non-pharmacological solutions.
Their signature offering, the Sedakit, is a next-generation medical device designed to deliver effective Digital Sedation therapeutic sessions to reduce patients’ pain and anxiety before, during, and after medical procedures.
Oncomfort combines evidence-based clinical hypnosis and other psychological techniques. Their Sedakit offers real-time session control, including remote video monitoring of the session progression and real-time adjustments throughout the procedure. It also provides a unique patient focus, ensuring smooth communication or instruction given through vocal commands available on smartphones and tablets, and offers 200+ therapeutic sessions covering all sedation levels.
Oncomfort secured €10 million ($11.8 million) in Series A funding, with the round led by Debiopharm and Crédit Mutuel Innovation, showcasing the market’s interest and support for their innovative solution.
At this momentous time of a new digital era, the highlighted top VR startups exemplify the VR industry’s course in creating an even more captivating digital environment.
The upcoming possibilities are tremendous, as innovative advancements, heavy investments, and a growing user base are likely to push VR technologies to unexplored grounds. The growing forecasts show that digital interaction is becoming more important and immersive. Startups are pioneering this movement, blurring the lines between the virtual and real world, leading to new and exciting experiences.
Based on these 15 companies, it seems that virtual reality is not only promising, but critical to changing our digital history.
Impressed by the current crop of AI startups? Check out our list of 10 AI Startups that are disrupting the industry...
Startup accelerators play a critical role in the process of building a new business by providing early-stage startups with resources...