VRCraftworks dealt a winning hand by the Brighton Digital Catapult Residency Programme

With the immersive virtual reality market touted to be worth $1.88 billion by 2020, it’s highly important that UK based companies looking to take advantage of this upward spiral be given every chance of succeeding in this arena and by virtue of that, grab a greater share of the pie. To help them to just that and scale, The Digital Catapult Centre Brighton has been offering residencies and support to startups, innovators and creatives working in virtual reality for a little while now.

Just one company to benefit from this initiative was VRCraftworks, a Brighton based organisation that builds virtual reality apps for businesses. This is their story, as told by Peter Maddalena, the Director of this successful company that has been working in Virtual Reality since the first Oculus Rift headset in 2014.

We have been part of the Brighton Digital Catapult Residency Programme since September 2017. All at the company were attracted to it because it’s a huge government backed initiative that supports and helps startup businesses in the emerging Immersive Technology Market to develop and release new products and services to market faster and more effectively. The facility is a fully equipped VR laboratory with Rifts, VIVES and mobile VR kit, alongside that is located supporting hardware, PCs, cameras and even mocap equipment.

We’ve achieved many things which wouldn’t be possible if we were not in residence here.  

Most notably, we delivered a VR popup experience for a major casino group, Grosvenor Casinos, that was demonstrated in London and Manchester over a period of four days. This was achieved not only through the use of in house equipment, but also by working closely with other residents at the Digital Catapult Centre Brighton. They helped with things like mocap for custom animation, building of custom characters, animation and CGI scene design and build.

For two days only, Grosvenor Casinos invited consumers to come and witness the wonders of the Northern Lights in Exchange Square, Broadgate in their activation at The Winter Forest, a Nordic inspired snow-covered pine forest.

To mark the beginning of its national Christmas and New Year campaign, we helped the company use virtual reality technology to transport consumers to an Icelandic wonderland. There they journeyed through a 4D immersive experience of the sights, sounds and smells of the Northern Lights setting, before meeting five woodland creatures who invited them to come and spin the roulette wheel in the wildest casino of them all.

Making use of everyone’s different skills and experience was essential in bringing this complex project to life, which was an essential win for or company as it provided the essential cash flow required to support our other key project VRDropandShare as well as key residents who worked tirelessly to make a success of the project.

In a nutshell, VRDropandShare is a multiuser social VR platform that through an easy workflow allows users to quickly create and share their own immersive experiences. With built in VOIP, created VR spaces become useful and experiential rather than a dry single user experience. During our time as resident, we completed both the webgl and IOS versions which gives a platform agnostic easy to use and inexpensive VR platform for storytelling, training or the sharing of special moments.

Benefits of the residency programme are not only practical, but also commercial.

Over the last quarter we have used the lab to demo to at least 15 potential clients, three or four of which may become actual clients and lead to commercial projects in the new year. We have also presented and demoed VRDropandShare at a number of VR events hosted at the Digital Catapult Centre Brighton. This has helped to extend the reach of our business, an example of which would be meetings at the BBC that were arranged for us by a co-resident whom we met whilst presenting at one of the VR evening events at the centre. Another example is a facilitated meeting with financial services provider, OneFamily, a mutual society who have no shareholders but are instead owned by its two million members.

This is not just a one-way street though. We have also paid it forward by helping other residents, either directly with their project work or through support and guidance, to reach their goals faster.

Moving forward we need to win some new work so that we have sufficient funds to round out the functionality of our platform VRDropandShare and launch it properly to the world. However, we are quite sure that we can rely on our new extended team to assist us in that regard.


Digital Catapult Centre Brighton


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