Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Centre Will Be a Leader in Virtual Reality Globally

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Centre Will Be a Leader in Virtual Reality Globally

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathon Manning Reporter

A MULTI-million-pound research and development centre will allow businesses in the North East to explore the "bleeding edge" of technology and make the region a centre for virtual reality when it opens this summer.

Proto will be the first centre in Europe built specifically to support emerging technologies such as VR and augmented reality (AR).

The PS7.8m facility will open this summer at the Baltic Business Quarter, near Gateshead Quays, and will support companies wishing to use the latest technologies to advance their business.

The state-of-the-art research and development (R&D) centre will include the latest technologies needed by businesses working within the tech and digital sectors. This includes VR headsets, haptics and wearable body suits, and motion capture equipment.

Coun John Adams, Gateshead Council's cabinet member for the economy, said: "Our ambition is to help create a larger, stronger, more vibrant augmented and virtual reality sector in the area. This is why we have invested in a dedicated centre for emerging technologies in the North East.

"If we want Gateshead businesses to succeed in the global market creating high-quality jobs for local people, we need to be at the cutting edge of R&D. Proto will put Gateshead and the North East at the forefront of this new technology." Along with the new R&D building Proto is also converting 2,300sq ft of commercial space into four floors of high-specification offices.

The facility is being funded by Gateshead Council, the European Regional Development Fund and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). As part of the funding Proto received a PS968,830 grant from the North East LEP, through its Local Growth Fund. Helen Golightly, executive director at the North East LEP, said: "The creative and digital sector is identified in our Strategic Economic Plan as one of the key areas that provides an opportunity for growth within the North East economy and this centre will enable the growth of a powerful cluster within this sector. …

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