​HTC to launch $100m VR startup accelerator program

HTC has announced the launch of a $100 million accelerator program targeted at startups operating in the virtual reality space.

HTC has announced the impending launch of Vive X, a $100 million global accelerator program for virtual reality (VR) startups.

The program is slated to start in Beijing in May, with HTC confirming next to come will be Taipei and San Francisco, with other regions on the Taiwanese giant's radar for the future.

The company expects the program will help grow the global VR ecosystem providing startups with expertise, access to advanced VR technology, financial investment, office space, mentorship, and go-to-market support.

"We are very excited about gathering the brightest and the most creative minds to join Vive X," Cher Wang, Chairwoman and CEO of HTC, said.

"Virtual reality is changing the world, yet to do that effectively it needs a healthy eco-system to expand into the mass market.

"Through HTC Vive, we look forward to enabling global talent to create interesting and compelling content and to help shape the future of this industry," Wang said.

As will be the case with the other locations, HTC said Vive X in Beijing will be targeted at accelerating entrance and growth for companies with proven success in the VR industry, with each startup receiving cash investment in return for equity.

HTC also anticipates that the startups moving through the accelerator will ultimately become content producers or content enablers for its Vive platform.

HTC began shipping its Vive VR headset this month, after showcasing the final version at Mobile World Congress in February.

In its fourth quarter results, the smartphone maker reported operating loss of NT$4.1 billion with operating margin of negative 16.1 percent.

Despite the losses recorded during the quarter ending December 31, 2015, HTC remained optimistic, saying its continued ongoing program of realignment, which will include moving into the VR and connected devices market, would improve the company's position.

"We are fully confident in delivering on our promise to enable consumers to pursue their own brilliance across all of our product groups," Wang said at the time.

In March, Telsyte predicted the popularity of VR in Australia to accelerate this year, and the sale of 110,000 units in 2016 to kick off annual growth of more than 500,000 headsets per annum by 2020, with video game enthusiasts expected to lead the trend.

"Strong market growth will come in 2017 and 2018 as manufacturers ramp up production and more 'must have' use cases emerge," Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi said at the time. "The strongest pent-up demand is coming from gamers, who clearly see VR as the next frontier in immersive entertainment."

Keeping up with the growing trend, Swedish retail giant IKEA took the leap into the world of VR earlier this month, launching its Virtual Reality Kitchen, IKEA VR Experience, in a bid to transform the way people shop.

Released on Valve's game distribution platform Steam, in partnership with HTC, the pilot allows customers to try new kitchen solutions before purchasing.

"Australians are known for embracing the latest technology and innovations, so virtual reality has the potential to transform the way people interact with our products in the home", Tim Prevade, range manager for IKEA Australia, said. "We look forward to hearing our customers' feedback on the experience as we continue to explore this space in the future."