San Francisco-based virtual reality (VR) studio Penrose is the latest in the VR and augmented reality (AR) space to secure funding, with the $8.5 million seed money Penrose announced March 10 believed to be one of the biggest seed content investments yet in the space.
Penrose debuted its first VR film, The Rose and I, at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, for the Samsung Gear VR, and is working on its second VR movie Allumette (based loosely on the Hans Christian Andersen short story “The Little Match Girl”). Allumette is expected to be finished in time for the April 13-24 Tribeca Film Festival.
“We are artists and technologists first, but as anyone knows, a great business requires capital and funding to flourish. As virtual and augmented reality breaks new ground each day, we’re excited to announce a historic $8.5 million seed round, the largest in the augmented and virtual reality industry,” Eugene Chung, founder and CEO at Penrose Studios, wrote in a blog post.
“Film festivals are recognizing VR as a new art form, and major conferences such as CES, GDC and SXSW (to name a few) are bringing VR to the mainstream.… Today is a milestone for Penrose, as well as the industry. As funding for VR and AR becomes more mainstream, this development signals a larger industry trend: a new medium has arrived.”
Penrose will use the seed money to hire engineers and artists, invest in VR and AR technologies, and put a wrap on Allumette.
The seed financing was led by Accelerate-IT Ventures (AITV), TransLink Capital, Suffolk Equity, 8 Angel along with several angel investors, Chung said. The company also announced that Brad Allen, executive chairman of NextVR, will become a strategic advisor for Penrose, joining filmmaker Roman Coppola.
Earlier this month, London-based AR technology firm Blippar announced it had raised $54 million in series D funding.
On March 7, investment firm Digi-Capital released a report showing there had been more than $1 billion in AR and VR investments during the first two months of 2016.