​First-Ever IDEABOOST Network Connect VR Summit

By Frédéric Guarino ● February 26, 2017 21:05

The Canadian Film Centre’s (CFC) IDEABOOST accelerator has welcomed five cohorts of startups since its inception in 2012. Over the years, there has been an increasing number of virtual reality (VR) startup applicants. Half the companies in current cohort 6 are VR-focused startups.

To better serve this growing community, the CFC Media Lab is hosting its first IDEABOOST Network Connect VR Summit from February 28 to March 1, which is aimed at building a strong network of Canadian VR startups. The Summit hopes to strengthen this network by sharing common market insights and honing pitches to strategic partners and investors.

The roots of Canada in the nascent VR space run deep, one example being CAE Montréal’s decades-long lead in advanced simulation. One could say that VR is as Canadian as maple syrup!

Provincial and federal research and development tax credits are key building blocks in a burgeoning network of startups coast to coast. They position Canada as a hub of innovation for the next global interaction medium. This medium is less than five years old, but the impact of VR is already being felt across many sectors and industries, including entertainment, with a new generation of gaming experiences, as well as tourism, education, healthcare and more.

The invitation-only three-day IDEABOOST Network Connect VR Summit will bring together diverse startups from SpherePlay (Montréal) to FilmTyme (Toronto). The companies in attendance will represent a diverse, complementary network of contenders to build the next great visual medium. Speakers such as Adam Lipper (Samsung) and Prashant Matta (OMERS) will join the startups over the three days.

“The most exciting horizon that we can cross is when the average VR experience is social,” says Pete Forde, CEO of Toronto’s Itsme3D. “Today's concept experiments will quickly become how people work and play together, especially over great distances."

Forde’s colleague Vlad Dalescu of PinchVR concurs. “VR is the next evolutionary step in computing, as it aims to make the human-to-computer symbiosis more intuitive and intimate by transcending the limitations of the mouse, keyboard and two-dimensional screen.” PinchVR is an end-to-end mobile solution allowing content creators, marketers and brands to deliver interactive virtual reality to audiences worldwide.

“VR has already proven that it has role to play in supporting patient populations,” says Mark Thorburn, founder of Mobio Interactive. “We’re working with researchers to support pain and cancer survivors, and to scale our products into the mainstream.” Mobio is a wellness company that blends user experience design with mindfulness practices.

“"I remember the day we received those ski goggles with display and lens attached [the Oculus Rift DK1],” says Montreal’s Christian Eve-Lévesque. “We were so wowed [that] we passionately had to pursue the quest to deliver those kind of immersive video experiences to everyone. That's when we started SpherePlay."

Waterloo’s Lens Immersive sees itself as “the destination for premium VR storytelling powered by the world's best streaming technology.” David Fedirchuk, also of Lens Immersive, adds that VR is great not only for the business opportunity, but also to see where the world's best storytellers will go with this new art form. “At the moment, no one has any idea what might be possible.”.

The Summit will enable these VR startups to come together for the first time. It already looks to be a productive gathering, with a number of exciting projects ideal for possible collaboration.

CFC Media Lab will bring you in-depth reporting from the Summit. 

Frédéric Guarino is a 20-year veteran of digital disruption and a Virtual Reality evangelist/strategist. He is also the guest programmer of the IDEABOOST Network Connect VR Summit.

Visit ideaboost.ca to join IDEABOOST Network Connect, our community affiliates program for companies that are building the next generation of technology-based media and entertainment products, services and brands. Network Connect provides access to mentors and experts, peer collaboration and networking, resources and perks and selected investor review.