NPIF Equity

Sale of virtual reality firm provides 4x return for Mercia

Immersive Interactive – a Southport company which provides virtual reality software for the education and medical sectors – has been acquired by Florida-based Echo Healthcare Inc, a global leader in high-reality simulation.

The deal provides an exit for Mercia, which achieved an overall return of 4x its original investment. Mercia first backed the company in 2013, using funding from the North West Fund for Venture Capital and later from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

Founded in 2012 by David Salt and Chris Porter, Immersive provides interactive classrooms for primary and special needs schools and virtual simulation spaces for training emergency services and medical staff. Following the acquisition, Immersive will become part of the global Echo Healthcare organisation, while retaining its existing offices and continuing to develop and support its product line. Both Chris and David will take on senior leadership positions within Echo Healthcare.

The acquisition will allow Echo Healthcare to significantly expands its healthcare simulation offering globally, further supporting its mission to save lives and improve patient outcomes through innovation, education and technology. Both Echo Healthcare and Immersive Interactive will begin to work immediately on their shared vision to create the world’s premier virtual reality, interactive simulation spaces.

Kevin King, CEO of Echo Healthcare, said: “The acquisition of Immersive Interactive is an important step in the evolution of our suite of product offerings, allowing increased market access, an enhanced team, and a further defined value proposition.”

Chris Porter, co-founder of Immersive, added: “By joining two amazing companies together we will immediately realize gains in efficiency, access to resources, and roadmap acceleration.”

Dawn Tyler of Mercia said: “We hear a lot about virtual reality, however Immersive Interactive has been a true pioneer in the field and its work demonstrates the potential it offers to transform education and training. The company already has an international reputation, and the partnership with Echo will enable it to build on this, opening up new opportunities and providing access to a wider global audience.”

Sean Hutchinson at British Business Bank, said: “Over the past couple of years, a new age of digital learning and online classrooms has started to fully take shape and serve as transformational tool in not only education sectors, but the health industry as well. The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund is pleased to have been a part of Immersive’s journey, providing access to finance to a Northern business at the forefront of an emerging and growing industry.”

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.