Edinburgh tech jobs boost as New Zealand firm opens capital 'centre of excellence'

A New Zealand firm behind advanced motion capture technology is launching a “centre of excellence” in Edinburgh as part of a multi-million-pound expansion of its capital operations.

StretchSense said its European headquarters in Edinburgh would now incorporate a centre of excellence in artificial intelligence (AI) and spatial computing. The firm, which is behind high-precision motion capture technology for the gaming and animation sectors, also announced a £6.9 million investment led by Edinburgh-based venture capital outfit Par Equity. Existing investor GD1, the New Zealand-based venture capital firm, and Scottish Enterprise are participating in the funding round.

The investment will further accelerate StretchSense’s global expansion, with the business planning to grow its engineering team to meet strong customer interest in its technology. It will also focus on developing new sensor technology to enable high-precision tracking in emerging applications such as the rapidly-developing corporate virtual training industry. To meet global demand, the company is expanding its sales and service teams across its three offices, with a “strong focus on customer support and building its burgeoning channel and technology partnerships”.

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Founded in 2012 by chief executive Benjamin O’Brien, chief technology officer Todd Gisby and bioengineering professor Iain Anderson, StretchSense has some 60 people globally with its headquarters in Auckland and offices in Edinburgh and Seattle.

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O’Brien said: “At StretchSense we believe that technology enabled garments are needed to humanise access to virtual worlds. We have already proven this model by revolutionising how studios capture highly precise, detailed hand movements. With this investment we are expanding into the metaverse, focused on the key partnerships, new technology and investments in scale needed to build the future of how people will create, learn, work, and play.

“Edinburgh is the perfect location as we grow our presence in Europe. Right on our doorstep, there are world-class universities, a vibrant tech ecosystem, amazing talent, and Scotland already has a strong reputation in the gaming sector. It’s a great fit, and we’re really pleased to have the support of Par Equity, Scottish Enterprise and GD1.”

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Tom Croy, senior investment manager, Par Equity, said: “StretchSense has developed technology that is transforming the creative industries sector including gaming and virtual effects, the company has hundreds of customers across the globe, and is well positioned to play a role in the evolution of virtual worlds. We look forward to being on the journey with Ben, Todd, and the rest of the team.”

Kerry Sharp, director of entrepreneurship and investment at Scottish Enterprise, the economic development agency, said: “Scotland is one of the top games and software developer locations in the world, with a pioneering reputation based on our rich heritage with titles like the Grand Theft Auto series, Lemmings and the console edition of Minecraft. It’s fantastic to see StretchSense choose Scotland for its European headquarters and our investment will help this highly innovative company pursue its ambitious International growth plans.”

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Claire Cramm, Iain Anderson, Benjamin O'Brien, Paul Atkinson and Tom Croy. Picture: Stewart Attwood

The rapidly-developing corporate virtual training industry is estimated to be worth more than $300 billion (£265bn) and is expected to grow to more than $550bn by 2027.

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