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Lethbridge VR industry could benefit from Canada Media Fund

Click to play video 'Lethbridge VR industry could benefit from Canada Media Fund' Lethbridge VR industry could benefit from Canada Media Fund
The Canada Media Fund is offering $10 million in relaunch funding to Canada's interactive digital media companies. As Emily Olsen reports, Lethbridge College officials say this will be beneficial for VR companies and graduates.

The Canada Media Fund is offering $10 million in relaunch funding to Canada’s interactive digital media companies, and people in the Lethbridge area are hoping the region will reap some of the benefits. 

The funding is intended to promote further development and production of Canadian content and eligible applicants can receive between $5,000 and $100,000 for their concept or product.

Mike McCready, president’s applied research chair in VR/AR at Lethbridge College, says it serves to benefit new graduates.

Read more: Lethbridge College researcher wows judges at Massachusetts Institute of Technology competition

“In southern Alberta and particularly in Lethbridge,  a lot of our students [are] looking for employment,” McCready said.

“Without this funding, it might make it difficult for them. But now that there are potentially these technology companies accessing some of this funding, it might open up some opportunities for our students and graduates to find employment in the VR/AR space.”

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McCready also said the college has been working with startup companies on projects for larger organizations. 

He said funding is crucial in developing new VR and AR solutions on a tighter timeline.

“Being able to see our partners benefit and grow through some of this funding is really important,” he said.

Read more: Lethbridge College announces virtual reality research chair

McCready said pushing for new developments in the VR world is beneficial for everyone.

“It affects healthcare, it affects first response, education, agriculture, trades,” McCready said. “There really isn’t one sector that wouldn’t benefit from solutions that were developed with a VR/AR focus.”

His colleague, Allyson Cikor, co-owns local company Simulacrum Interactive which is helping to develop VR tourism programming for the town of Vulcan.

“People can come in and learn about the history of tractors and how technology has changed in the past 100 years or so,” Cikor said.

Read more: Cameras soon set to roll on Alberta film sets after productions paused

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She said many companies took a hit this year with a loss of provincial tax credits and the pandemic, but the federal funding shows there is still support and interest in the industry.

“All of this technology is really just a tool,” Cikor said. “And in a lot of cases, it’s a tool that can be used to provide solutions for other industries, especially as we move online with COVID[-19].””

Applications are open on the Canada Media Fund website until Sept. 25.