Visitors to the headquarters of Google experience Google Cardboard
Sistema Venture Capital (venture Fund of the AFK “System”) became the first third-party investor in the startup MEL Science, said the participants of the transaction at a press conference in Moscow on Wednesday. The Fund invested $2.5 million, the size of the share is not disclosed. Funds will be directed to the development of a series of VR tutorials and products in the field of physics and biology. New products the company plans to release in 2017.
MEL Science was created in 2014. The company develops projects for school students at the intersection of traditional teaching and online technologies with an emphasis on natural Sciences. Flagman MEL Science — a course for independent study chemistry. It includes 38 sets for experiments, mobile application, virtual reality glasses Google Cardboard. With the help of a smartphone and points students can view on chemical reactions “from the inside”. The price of this is $50 per month (2690 RUB. in Russia). The company’s founder — Vasily Filippov — previously invested in MEL Science to $1.5 million.
The Central office MEL Science is located in London. According to Vasily Filippov, the development in the UK can make the project global, in particular, due to the high quality of English education. The company has offices in St. Petersburg, here is also based R&D laboratory, where he developed kits for experiments and educational applications. In addition to MEL Science Vasily Philippov is a co-founder developer of mobile applications SPB Software. In 2011 the company was sold to Yandex for $38.4 million.
Now MEL sells Science kits in chemistry in three countries — Russia, USA, UK. The US accounts for 65-70% of sales. This is due to the increasing popularity of home schooling in the country is now 2.5 million of the 50 million American schoolchildren are taught at home, said MEL Science. The company plans to expand into other European countries and in Australia.
According to the President of Sistema VC Alexey Katkov, the Fund chose MEL for Science investment due to the convergence in product technology VR training offline. “In our view, this approach allows you to push VR to the masses. Now it seems to us that to create a VR-training in its purest form is impossible. It is possible that after some time the quantity and quality of VR lessons will be such that the presence in the offline world can be reduced”, — he said. For Sistema VC is the fourth deal. Previously, the Fund invested in the company facial recognition Systems, service of household services YouDo and developer for VR gaming.
According to CB Insights, in 2015, startups in the field of virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) raised from investors of $658 million during the 126 transactions. As wrote TechCrunch, 2012 the volume of attracted funds amounted to more than $1.46 billion, the Publication cites Citi’s estimate, according to which by 2019, the VR market will grow to $15.9 billion.
PwC partner Yuri Fluff reminds that the industry of the VR technology is in its infancy. Educational projects in the sales is rather insignificant, the main portion of the game, he said. According to Yuri Puhi, the market of educational VR technology is still in its infancy, the concentration on the market is low and fragmentation is high enough. “With regard to primary education, there is, VR, most likely, will appear after the experience of their application in the segment of higher education, as online learning requires some self-discipline and skills of work with the software. However, we have not yet seen online courses of Russian universities that offer a virtual reality mode. Although this idea, of course, on the surface, the benefits of it are clear, and sooner or later it will be implemented”, — said Yuri Fluff.