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VR Education Holdings has just launched an IPO on the Irish and London alternative stock exchanges.
In an earlier newsfeed, we covered VR making an appearance in the classroom in America. Now an Irish startup is due to produce a similar disruption in the British educational environment. Now VR Education Holdings has just started trading on ESM - the Enterprise Securities Market of the Irish Stock Exchange as well as the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in London.
The Waterford based company, which specializes in delivering digital education in a virtual environment, is the first Irish technology company to launch on ESM since the market was created in 2005.
The formalities of the admission protocols required that they raise £6 million (€6.7million). In the event the initial public offering of 60 million 10p shares was oversubscribed more than three times, giving the company an implied market value of £19.3 million (€21.6 million).
The deal was brokered by Shard Capital Partners LLP and the Davy Group, with the Davy Group also acting as ESM advisor and Cairn Financial Advisers LLP as Nominated advisor. Shares in the VR Education Holdings are currently trading at 11.75p - 12% higher than their launch price.
Deirdre Somers, the CEO of the Irish Stock Exchange said that it was “fantastic to see VR Education Holdings at a relatively stage of their development, utilise the ESM to access international pools of capital to deliver the finance they need to fuel their growth.” She added that “VR Education’s IPO success demonstrates that listing on an exchange is an option for SMEs with a great business, ambition and plans to scale.”
Before the stock market launch, the company had already raised €1.3 million in venture capital from Enterprise Ireland, Kernel Capital Venture Funds, Suir Valley Ventures.
The company currently employs 21 full-time employees as graphic artists, animators, developers, researchers and marketers. Early products of the company, from its pre-IPO period, include Apollo 11 Experience and its Engage platform.
The award-winning Apollo 11 VR was a recreation of the 1969 moon landing that sold over 100,000 and brought in €1 million in revenue. It was available for the Sony Playstation and the Oculus Rift. Since then they have released Titanic VR, a virtual exploration of the wreck of the Titanic.
In a recent interview, Dave Whelan, the CEO of VR Education said he wanted to turn “educators into rock stars.” However, on a more serious note, one of the company’s main objectives is to bring down the cost of education. Although by no means a new concept - Coursera got their first, and Britain’s Open University even before that - bringing virtual reality into the process adds another dimension - literally!
The company is planning on releasing a series of 10 free lectures with Oxford University. They will also be creating content for paid access and some content exclusively for particular institutions. Online learning has something of a mixed reputation as only about 15% of students finish online courses that they start, according to VR Education. However, the company believes that its virtual reality approach will be more engaging: hence the name of their platform.
The education market is growing rapidly. It stood at $187 million in 2016, but is expected to grow to $2 billion by 2021, while the VR market is expected to quintuple to $35 billion by that year. Despite their recent cash infusion, VR Education may not be in a position to dominate that market, in the face of potential competition from bigger players. But they will certainly be able to carve a large chunk of it with their head start.
The Engage platform has the flexibility to be used both academic and corporate education. It can be used for lectures, seminars, conferences and presentations in both secure (closed) and open environments. Content can be live, prerecorded or a mixture of the two.