Successful round for UK virtual reality firm Improbable


A London-based virtual reality firm has raised $500m (£388m) in one of the biggest investments in an early stage European technology business.

Japan’s Softbank is backing Improbable in a funding round that values the business at more than $1bn.

The deal is further evidence that the UK’s technology sector can now compete with the best.

There may also be relief that despite the cash injection from Japan, Improbable will stay independent.

Improbable was founded just five years ago by Herman Narula and Rob Whitehead, who had studied computer science together at Cambridge University.

Their aim was to build large-scale virtual worlds and simulations – mainly for games developers but also for other clients who could use them in applications such as modelling transport systems.

The company believes it has developed revolutionary technology with its Spatial OS operating system, which it has opened up to other developers. It has partnered with Google to put its system on the search giant’s cloud, allowing small developers to create massive simulations without much infrastructure of their own.

Mr Narula’s ambitions for Improbable are of a kind we are more used to hearing from Silicon Valley than in the UK. “Our vision,” he says, “is to create completely new realities, massive virtual worlds that can change the way we live and work and can impact the way we understand some of the hardest problems.”

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