VR/AR Association New Zealand gets a Centre for Mixed Reality

Wellington’s virtual and mixed reality centre Projectr has officially opened with a launch event today in collaboration with MBIE.

Minister of Economic Development Simon Bridges opened the centre and released the latest New Zealand ICT Sector Report to an audience of over 160 private and public sector attendees.

Wellington City Council, foundation partners helping with the establishment of PROJECTR, see the centre as an opportunity to boost and combine the skills of our AR/VR talent in one location, enabling collaboration to increase technology and product development which can be exported to the world.

“Artificial Intelligence will drive tomorrow’s world” says Councillor Simon Marsh, Economic Development portfolio lead. “PROJECTR, is an opportunity to showcase Wellington’s creative ability on a global scale. Wellington is an intelligent city that brings innovative ideas to life and PROJECTR will drive innovation in the virtual and mixed reality space, adding to Wellington’s reputation as leader in digital enterprise. Wellington City Council are proud supporters of PROJECTR and innovation that encourages a collaborative working approach”

Victoria University of Wellington has also partnered with PROJECTR’s research and development lab to support R&D innovations. The first collaborative project, with help from Victoria researchers is underway and focuses on innovations in the health sector.

Vice-Provost (Research) Professor Kate McGrath says the university-business nexus is one that is critically important for Victoria as a global-civic university and New Zealand’s top-ranked university for research quality.

“Through this partnership, our staff and students have the opportunity to work alongside people with different skill bases and perspectives, apply their knowledge and expertise, and gain access to an extensive array of the latest commercial technology advances.

“This partnership also helps in enhancing New Zealand’s capacity and capability to support social and economic growth and change, particularly important in this heightened period of technological advancement and disruption as virtual, augmented and mixed realities become pervasive technologies.”

The ICT report shows that the computer services sector invested more in R&D than any other sector ($436m in 2016) and 34% of computer system design firms invest in R&D compared to an average of 9% across other sectors. Centre Executive Jessica Manins, who has brought the centre to life, said she is keen to see more companies investing in research to accelerate the rate of technological innovation and its associated economic benefits for New Zealand.

“R&D is at the heart of our centre and we’re encouraging as many companies to drop in, try out the latest technology and use our centre as a space for testing, playing and developing proof of concepts with our cities innovators”

Founding tenants at PROJECTR include leading AR/MR production studio Mixt, The New Zealand VR/AR Association, ShowHow VR training platform, Synty Studios, BeVR, Swibo, StaplesVR, Imersia and The New Zealand Game Developers Association.

“The New Zealand Game Developers Association is excited to partner with PROJECTR in Wellington as we see great opportunities for collaboration between game developers and the many industries exploring VR and AR,” says James Everett, Chairperson of the NZGDA, and PROJECTR mentor.

Co-working residents have access to mentors, shared work space and the ability to work on collaborative R&D projects within the centre making it a key point of difference from any other shared workspace. International mentors include the Head of VR at HTC Vive, Vinay Narayan, Partner Program Manager for Education at Microsoft, Dan Ayoub and local experts from Weta Workshop and Victoria University. Other key partners of the centre include Ernst and Young, Ricoh, AWS and Crestline.

PROJECTR has been set up on level 2 of the six-storey NEC House owned by The Wellington Company. Its newest tenant since a major refurbishment programme was undertaken on the high-profile Taranaki Street building, PROJECTR has benefited from significant support by The Wellington Company.