New Northern Ireland Immersive Lab launched

Date published: 28 November 2017

Digital Catapult today launched its new Immersive Lab in the iconic Belfast Telegraph Building on Royal Avenue.

Pictured at the launch of Digital Catapult’s new Immersive Lab are (l-r) CEO-designate of UK Research and Innovation Sir Mark Walport, Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister and Head of Digital Catapult NI Tom Gray.
Pictured at the launch of Digital Catapult’s new Immersive Lab are (l-r) CEO-designate of UK Research and Innovation Sir Mark Walport, Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister and Head of Digital Catapult NI Tom Gray.

The new digital space will give organisations of all sizes the opportunity to get hands-on experience with the latest immersive technology including Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality enabling them to demonstrate, innovate and test their own business ideas and research.

Supported by the Department for the Economy, Digital Catapult UK and Belfast City Council, the new lab forms part of a number of Immersive Labs across the UK with other locations including London, Brighton and Gateshead.  

Speaking at the opening, Professor Sir Mark Walport, CEO-designate of UK Research and Innovation said: “Belfast is fast developing a reputation as a hub of entrepreneurial and academic talent in the digital sector. That’s why the Digital Catapult and Innovate UK have opened the first Immersive lab in the city so that we continue to promote the exchange of ideas and give people access to the very latest equipment that will help bring those ideas to life. The Lab here in Belfast will provide access to cutting-edge immersive technology allowing innovators and businesses to test and prototype their ideas and speed up their journey to market.”

Permanent Secretary of the Department for the Economy, Dr Andrew McCormick added: “Companies, entrepreneurs, creatives and technologists will get access to the latest immersive technology and it is also available to students and academics alike. It is envisaged that the space will become a hub for digital innovators and businesses looking to capitalise on the growing opportunities within the knowledge economy both here in Belfast and across Northern Ireland. In addition, by making this space available to academics and students it will further help to develop the skills needed to support this expanding sector.”

Digital Catapult CEO, Dr Jeremy Silver added: "With all the investment in Asia and the US in different hardware platforms, the UK opportunity we see is to develop world-leading content and applications for virtual and augmented reality. Northern Ireland’s skills in games and creative industries are perfect for this new medium which can be applied for training and design, across the manufacturing industry and health as well. The Immersive Labs can be a showcase, a production facility, an experimentation lab and be part of a network of Labs across the UK. Eventually we want to join these up to present to the world a connected UK content production capability."

Speaking at the event Belfast Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister said: “Belfast’s international reputation for its creative and digital sector is growing rapidly; more than 20,000 people are now employed in the creative and digital industries. The opening of this lab in the former Belfast Telegraph Building, a location at the heart of the city, further demonstrates Belfast City Council’s commitment to support this growing and important industry.

“Last year we formed a joint venture partnership, Bel Tel LLP, alongside McAleer & Rushe to bring forward exciting new plans for the building’s redevelopment. The partnership is delighted to have attracted Digital Catapult Northern Ireland with a view to encouraging further links with the burgeoning media, tech and innovation industry following future redevelopment.”

Tom Gray, Head of Digital Catapult NI added: “I am certain that the launch of Digital Catapult Northern Ireland’s first Immersive Lab here in Belfast will help people and businesses to understand the potential of Immersive Technology. The Lab will provide the environment and technology to demonstrate and showcase the potential of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality. We already have a significant presence in the global immersive market, being home to many up and coming VR companies. We also have a rich heritage in sectors where immersive technologies are likely to have large and immediate impact: the creative industries, construction, manufacturing and healthcare. Establishing Immersive Labs in key regions across the country, like this one in Belfast, will further support the development of this industry.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. To find out about Immersive Labs please visit the Digital Catapult website
  2. Digital Catapult Northern Ireland delivers a wide range of activities supporting and helping build on Northern Ireland’s digital capability and promote international collaboration. More information can be found on the Digital Catapult website 
  3. Digital Catapult UK has a mission to drive the UK economy through the practical application of digital innovation. It is funded by Innovate UK, which will become part of UK Research and Innovation in 2018.
  4. For media enquiries, please contact DfE Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974 383.
  5. Follow us on Twitter @Economy_NI

Share this page

Back to top