SoftBank sinks $500M into UK virtual reality startup

LONDON — A British startup founded five years ago by Cambridge University computer science graduates has received $502 million to develop large-scale virtual reality projects in a funding round led by Japan's SoftBank.

The investment gives SoftBank, a telecoms and energy company, a non-controlling stake in London-based Improbable.

Improbable Chief Executive Herman Narula said Friday that "the emergence of large-scale virtual worlds" would be the next major phase in computing.

The company, which employs about 200 people, creates virtual worlds for multiplayer games, and is researching real-life applications in fields including cybersecurity and traffic control.

SoftBank managing director Deep Nishar said Improbable's technology "will help us explore disease, improve cities, understand economies and solve complex problems on a previously unimaginable scale."

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