MIT introduces the Virtual Reality accelerator “Play Labs”.

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is teaming up with Bayview Labs and a relatively new venture capital firm called Seraph Group,

with the aim of launching a new accelerator dedicated to entertainment technologies such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.

This program begins during the summer, offering mentoring and facilities for select technology start-ups looking to enter the technology field to innovate and create new solutions.

Registration is now open for this first phase of the program, which will be called “Play Labs”, but only for those companies that are affiliated with MIT, which means that at least one of its founders must be an MIT graduate, student or faculty member.

Apart from that, the criteria established are quite broad, taking into account companies at any stage (pre-foundation, active entrepreneurship, etc.) to fall within the scope of what is defined as “Playful Technologies” or “entertainment technologies”.

Although the focus of this program is certainly geared towards Virtual and Augmented Reality to receive enrollments, they should also consider entrepreneurs who are looking to develop technologies in relevant areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Vision and 3D Modeling.



Later on they could start receiving more specific topics such as product manufacturing, healthcare, data visualization, professional level video games and much more. MIT students seek to thrive on innovation and creative exploration. That is why the institution will seek through Play Labs to help them move their ideas and exploit their imagination to the fullest. One of the main groups spearheading this project is Ludus, MIT’s center dedicated to games, learning and entertainment media.

Once the application intake stage closes on February 20, a number of startups (between 5 and 10, although the exact number is not fully defined according to what their website says) will be selected to start in a 3-month intensive phase at MIT’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Each will receive initial funding of $20,000 in exchange for 6% common equity, followed by an additional potential $80,000 for qualified graduates. The program will be led by Rizwan Virk, CEO of Bayview Labs. Virk will mentor the startups along with other faculty and staff members at MIT Game Lab, which would be the host group for the program along with Ludus. Both will coordinate all the various research groups that will be in charge of exploring all topics related to games and entertainment. Also participating will be the “VR @ MIT” group, a student organization dedicated to fostering Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality entrepreneurship within the institution.

Virk, who is an entrepreneur and investment sponsor, says he wishes this type of program had been available when he graduated from MIT and was looking to get his first venture off the ground, so he designed the program this way, with the support of both MIT staff and industry entrepreneurs and mentors. MIT has been known to be the starting point for many successful ventures over many years. Currently, the institution’s branch located on the west coast of the country is more dedicated to gaming technologies and the development of games based on Virtual and Augmented Realitybut will seek to bring these principles and interests to the headquarters. MIT Bostonwhere there is also enormous talent and new ideas can be developed for these areas. Here we are talking about just the latest in a series of Virtual Reality-oriented accelerators and incubators that have been popping up over the last year. There are others such as Vive X, Samsung NEXT, Upload Collective and the SXSW Accelerator, which this year has a dedicated category for the VR and AR fields. Considering that interest in these technologies is growing and attracting a lot of attention, we are likely to see more of this as 2017 progresses.