The Skolkovo Foundation is on the hunt for promising virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) projects and has launched a search that will culminate in St. Petersburg next month.

The competition will be held as part of Unreal Fest, an international open-air festival devoted to VR/AR on September 3 that is organizing the contest in partnership with Skolkovo.

“You’ll be amazed how real things we could previously only dream of have become,” promise the festival’s organisers.  

A man trying out a VR headset at the VR/AR zone of Skolkovo's Startup Village held in June. Photo:

The competition, titled Unreal Best, offers developers of VR/AR projects the chance to present their work to leading experts in the VR/AR industry. Developers who have a ready VR/AR product or prototype can submit them via the competition’s website until August 25.

The teams behind the projects to make it through the first round will then each have 5 minutes to present their inventions to a jury of experts and mentors at VR/AR Startup Lynch, to be held on August 30 at the Ingria business incubator in St. Petersburg.

The top 10 projects deemed by the jury to have the most potential will then be presented to a private audience consisting of representatives of Russian venture funds. At the event, held on September 3 as part of Unreal Fest, the projects’ developers will battle it out for investment and prizes, having received pitch mentoring from Ingria business consultants.

The festival's organisers promise the biggest Pokestop in Russia for lovers of the augmented reality game Pokemon GO. Photo:

Grigory Leschenko, head of multimedia and game technologies within Skolkovo’s IT cluster, will take part in the competition’s expert panel, and told he would be on the lookout for startups with the potential to become residents of the Skolkovo Foundation.

“It’s a very interesting sphere for us: this technology is not just used in entertainment, but has many other uses in areas such as business, medicine and tourism,” said Leschenko, citing the example of Vizerra, a resident of Skolkovo’s IT cluster that makes interactive 3D apps for use in city planning, construction projects, industrial design and virtual tourism.

Vizerra’s director Alexander Lavrov, who has more than 150 AR/VR projects under his belt, is also taking part in the competition’s expert panel.

The Skolkovo Foundation was involved in setting up Russia’s Association of Augmented and Virtual Reality, another of the competition’s organisers, and continues to work closely with its head, Yekaterina Filatova, said Leschenko.  

Other representatives of Skolkovo resident startups will speak Unreal Fest, including Valeria Kholodkova, marketing director of EligoVision, another resident of Skolkovo’s IT cluster. She will speak on the subject of “Tamed Technology: Augmented Reality in Education,” while Yaroslav Sivokhin, head of the VR platform of Skolkovo resident Fibrum, will share his experience of working in VR with festival participants.

Unreal Fest will feature an exhibition of VR/AR tech that visitors will be able to try for themselves, as well as a kids’ zone with educational games, and an educational aspect aimed at helping developers to make cutting-edge VR/AR products.

The festival also promises the biggest Pokestop in Russia, complete with rare Pokemon sought by players of the wildly popular augmented reality game Pokemon GO.

Russia has a fast-growing VR/AR market, with an estimated 300-400 Russian companies working in various areas of virtual reality, according to expert estimates.

Last month, Yevgeny Kuznetsov, the acting head of Russian Venture Company, a state investment institute, said Russia should focus on developing its VR/AR market.