Millions pour into China’s virtual reality industry

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 April, 2016, 8:16pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 April, 2016, 10:11am

More than a dozen Chinese virtual-reality (VR) start-ups raised fresh funding of at least 10 million yuan each last month as venture capitalists continue to flock to this nascent market.

The Nanfang Daily also reported on Monday that 60 listed domestic companies have entered the VR industry since July last year through investments in content developers and device makers.

The VR consumer market will explode within a year in China, according to a white paper released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) last week. The market size of China’s VR industry will triple this year to 5.66 billion yuan from 1.54 billion yuan last year, according to the white paper. It also estimates the industry revenue is on track to cross 55 billion yuan by 2020.

According to MIIT, China will issue a series of regulations on content production, terminal displays and soft platform development this year.

On March 2, domestic wearable device maker Bong announced it completed 32 million yuan of financing and announced its entry into VR device manufacturing. The investment was led by Yinjiang Venture Capital, according to tech.163.com. On March 16, Shenzhen-based smart home theatre provider JmGO announced that it closed a 600 million yuan investment deal led by Golden Brick Capital and Zhongjin Qianhai Fund.

The trend continues this month, with technology major Huawei announcing its entry into VR. On Saturday, Huawei launched its own VR headset, called Huawei VR, to rival Samsung’s Gear VR. Huawei VR will be compatible with the company’s latest smartphone, including the P9 and P9 Plus, and the Mate 8.

Huawei made no mention of the price or when the VR headset will be available, but said the device will offer over 4,000 free movies and over 40 free games, along with over 350 panoramic images and over 150 panoramic tours.

On Wednesday, VR panoramic camera company Insta360 announced that it has landed hundreds of millions of yuan from investors led by China’s leading download manager and peer-to-peer software Xunlei, Qiming VC – a previous investor in Insta360 – and FreesFund.

On April 8, Phantom VR, a VR game developer that set up in Beijing in December – received over 10 million yuan from angel investors, mainland media reported. It was led by investment fund Hejun Capital and VR platform provider Magical World, followed by online game developer TipCat Interactive.

On April 12, Journey Technology, a Beijing-based start-up engaged in enhancing display technology and hardware platform of augmented reality, landed a financing of over 10 million yuan led by three domestic VC funds.

The number of people using VR content in China will exceed 1.4 million this year, according to estimates by iResearch, which expects this figure to more than double next year.