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France and the UK Leading European Push into VR Content

Britain & France continue to lead the way in the European entertainment sector, pushing VR content via government support, public broadcasters and studios. We look at the growth in the European VR sector, and how France and the UK are pushing innovation.

Britain and France have long been two of the leading lights in Europe's gaming and film sectors, but they're now both at the forefront of the European push into Virtual Reality (VR) content creation. 

Of the 22 titles competing in the VR section of the Venice Film Festival, 8 are from France or the UK. It's not just film either, with both countries pushing development into VR gaming, particularly for platforms such as Oculus and PlayStation VR. 

The VR sector is clearly enjoying something of a boom in Europe, with a report in August highlighting 487 distinct VR companies in Europe, compared to 300 in February of this year. So where is the funding coming from for such a rapid growth in the industry? 

Unlike the US, where VR is funded on the whole by private investors or corporations, France and the UK are seeing funding coming from a far wider range of benefactors, including the government, technology studios, individual television channels, public broadcasters (such as the BBC) and independent producers, eager to get into the growing sector. 

In France, the government subsidized National Film Board continues to push VR content, backing 33 VR projects last year, up from just one in 2014. Funding projects via two separate schemes, the Film Board put 3.5m Euros into funding VR projects to date. 

These subsidies allow French VR companies to spending more time on their content, and hire skilled crews and creators. This means they end up with a far more developed concept for any piece of content, and it's pushing France to the forefront of the VR sector in Europe. Seemingly not content with being officially the world's most popular destination for tourists, France is now looking to be the European leader in VR, following on from Macron's desire to see Paris positioned as a global technology hub in the next decade. 

Similarly, in the UK producers such as the BBC are investing heavily in VR content, leading to more channels following their lead - such as Arte, France Televisions and TF1 in France, and ZDF in Germany. These channels clearly see VR as part of the future, and they understand that if they don't invest sufficiently in VR content now, in a few years time the sector will be entirely dominated by Hollywood and Asia, both of whom are putting substantial funding into native virtual reality content, including gaming, television and film. 

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