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ACE IT, the programme enabling small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to explore, develop and evolve immersive technologies has sadly come to an end.

It’s now time to celebrate its phenomenal success. You could say we aced it!

Read on to discover how and why it became the go-to programme for London’s technologically focussed SMEs.

What is ACE IT?

The Accelerating the Creative Economy through Immersive Tech (ACE IT) programme, created by South Bank Innovation (SBI) and London South Bank University (LSBU), was launched in 2019.

The programme provided free support to London-based SMEs enabling them to discover, commercialise and integrate immersive technologies into their business.

Beneficiaries worked closely with a team of academics and technology experts and had access to technical facilities, usually out of reach for smaller companies, to develop their skills and products.

Throughout the ACE IT programme, SMEs had the opportunity to access consultancy or technical support from experts in:

  • Augmented reality (AR)
  • Virtual reality (VR)
  • Immersive audio (IA)
  • Volumetric capture and scanning

We helped them formulate strategies to fast-track their immersive technology prototypes into new products, processes or services. They also had access to a range of technologies to experiment and test new ideas, which meant they could hang on to their own hard-earned research and development budgets.

For those that already had a working prototype or minimum viable product (MVP), we provided access to user and product testing. This gave them the all-important data they needed to refine their product and get it market ready.

ACE IT was part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. LSBU was the lead partner, and they jointly delivered the programme with the University of the Arts London.

Relevance to today’s world

Industry data shows there will be an expansion of immersive technology over the next decade - not just in terms of its capabilities - but also the spread and adoption.

Immersive technologies represent an opportunity for significant growth for both the economy and SMEs. Globally, the revenue for immersive technologies reached US$5.2bn in 2016, with PwC’s Seeing in Believing report forecasting a global GDP boost of US$1.5 trillion by 2030 due to the immersive technologies sector.

Despite huge industry growth, several obstacles still limit business opportunities for SMEs. These include:

  • Being unable to reach technology users
  • Not having access to the most recent studies and academic knowledge
  • Paying a high price for technical equipment
  • Not having access to investment opportunities
  • Barriers to diversification through limited tech capability

ACE IT was designed specifically to respond to the needs of SMEs in London and help them counteract these difficulties.

What ACE IT achieved

Throughout four years we consulted with and assisted 71 SMEs and clocked up a total of 3,448 hours of fully-funded support time.

We helped them to advance, create or develop the VR, AI and/or AR for their business. Due to our supportive research and development process, SMEs were able to develop new products or services and determine whether they were viable. In some cases, we helped them launch their new or refined product or service to market.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic our consultants stayed in regular contact with each business to help minimise the potentially damaging effects of the lockdown.  

Project examples

Here are some snippets examining some of the SMEs we had the pleasure to support:

  • Bodyswaps advanced their VR and AI job interview simulators
  • Popla Media added immersive elements to their business and created an AR interactive book for children as part of their Pop-up Nation project
  • Alivein Tech performed user testing on their MVP and received invaluable target audience feedback to refine and develop their software and tutorials
  • The Golden Hinde made the famous ship more accessible for tourists through building augmented reality portals using 360-degree cameras

Thank you

ACE IT was so successful because of the dedication of our academics, experts and wider team members. We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who shared their time and knowledge with us and to the SMEs who trusted us with their journey. Hopefully we'll get to catch up soon!

But the journey doesn’t end here... Introducing Hi3 Network

Although ACE IT has finished, you can still develop and fast-track your immersive technology products with us.

Our Hi3 Network is defining the future of moving-image, screen-based and creative technologies through innovative research and development. You will have the chance to collaborate with industry specialists, researchers and businesses to develop new products, services and experiences for free. Find out more about the Hi3 Network and continue your development journey with us today.

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