Labster raises $10M to bring virtual lab simulations to students
Labster ApS, a Danish producer of virtual laboratory simulations, raised $10 million in a funding effort led by Balderton Capital, with participation from Northzone and Unity Technologies founder David Helgason, which will allow the education tech company to continue its expansion in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Labster provides an easily accessible way for students from all over the world to experience science. The company creates fully interactive advanced virtual lab simulations that use technology from computer gaming and research on the psychology of learning to guide students through real science experiments. Working with customers such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the U.S., and Imperial College in London, UK, Labster develops simulations designed to deepen students’ learning and prepare them for more advanced studies in real labs. University students can perform simulations of experiments as many times as they need to, around their own timetable on their own devices, or in a classroom with the guidance of a teacher.
Labster has a bank of more than 64 simulations, from a basic introduction to acids and bases where students can perform a simulation of handling corrosive chemicals, to a simulation of using a confocal microscope. All simulations include games and challenges to keep students engaged and learning. Increasingly simulations can be accessed through Virtual Reality headsets to give the student the experience of actually being in the lab.
Students, from high school through university, can access Labster’s simulations for a monthly subscription. The company has customers at over 150 institutions in 25 countries, including ETH Zurich, Harvard Medical School, MIT and Imperial College.
Labster intends to develop new simulations for students in chemistry, physics and medicine – and Balderton and Northzone’s investment will fund Labster’s expansion in the US and Europe, as well as help initiate special projects in South America, the Middle East and Africa. The funding will also enable the company to continue its extensive research into the learning impact of virtual content and new technologies on students from around the world.
“Labster provides the education sector with an opportunity to increase learning and motivation to unprecedented levels,” says Labster founder and CEO Mads Tvillinggaard Bonde. “By uniting elements from the psychology of learning, virtual simulations and gaming, Labster is helping students learn more effectively and use resources that might be otherwise impossible to access. This funding from Balderton Capital and Northzone will give us the opportunity to engage even more students globally, helping young people achieve their qualifications as well as opening up their minds to the applications of science.”
Kambiz Hamadani, Assistant Professor, California State University, San Marcos says, “By taking advantage of all the latest technologies, Labster has pioneered a novel solution that can be very beneficial to universities and students globally. Using this impressive and portable platform, we can improve the learning outcomes and motivation of students in the fields of science and technology”.
The funding will also enable further development of Labster’s simulation builder platform, which allows students and scientists to create their own Virtual Reality simulations. Labster recently was named overall winner of the Reimagine Education awards for this project. The awards are organized by Wharton business school at the University of Pennsylvania, the SEI Center at the University of Philadelphia, and QS Quacquarelli Symonds, the compiler of the QS World University Rankings.
Readers are can experience Labster for themselves at www.labster.com/try-now/.
Medical students can use a simulation to learn more about gene regulation, for example, as outlined in this video. Though the simulations are designed to be accessed through multiple devices, including tablets and phones, they do lend themselves to the burgeoning virtual reality (VR) industry — and VR headsets are something that Labster said it is increasingly supporting.