Entain to probe NFTs and VR with £100m innovation hub

Entain has announced the launch of its Enovate innovation hub, funded with a £100 million investment, in order to investigate emerging areas and collaborate with UK, European and global partners. 

Underscoring an ambition to become a ‘global leader in innovative entertainment’, the FTSE100 gambling group has outlined plans for investigation of the Non-Fungible Token (NFT), Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality sectors. 

This will include development of a ‘pioneering VR multi-sports club experience’ and high-street VR arcades, whilst NFTs are due to be rolled out across the group’s brands, with PartyPoker leading the launch. Powered by Theta Labs, the PartyPoker NFTS are intended to showcase ‘iconic video moments and tournament trends’ in the site’s history. 

“We want to lead the way with new, exciting products and experiences for customers and use our cutting-edge technology to pioneer innovations in sport, gaming and interactive entertainment for the metaverse,” said Jette Nygaard-Andersen, Chief Executive of Entain.

In support of Enovate, Entain plans to open a lab in Charterhouse Square, Farringdon, London in the spring, near to the UK headquarters of TikTok and Snapchat, where the innovation team will work alongside the firm’s commercial and not-for-profit partners. 

The lab will feature an ‘Experience Zone’ enabling customers, investors, partners and employees to test developed immersive experiences, whilst also coordinating work on products for the metaverse.

Additional features of the institution are accelerator and incubator programmes, with the former investing £5 million on individual innovative initiatives, whilst the operator has also underscored that startups specialising in immersive experience, interactive entertainment and the metaverse will be invited to participate. 

Sandeep Tiku, Chief Operating Officer, Entain, said: “Our goal is to bring the most exciting experiences in immersive sport, gaming and interactive entertainment to life as the metaverse takes shape.

“Working with partners we believe we can achieve great things faster, both for customers and to apply these technologies and skills to benefit wider society.”

Additionally, Entain also plans to build relationships and partnerships with ‘technology innovators’, having entered into initial collaborations with Verizon, which will help construct the Ennovate 5G Lab project; BT, which will explore Entain’s computing and also work to drive 5G usage; and lastly Theta Labs, which will assist the firm in achieving its NFT goals. 

Finally, Entain has linked the new project to its ESG initiatives, allowing its not-for-profit partners access to the technological developments and funding available through Enovate, including Chance for Childhood and Climate Hack AI

“We also want to use our position as a global technology leader to help drive innovation more widely,” Nygaard-Andersen continued. 

“Working with partners around the globe, Ennovate will demonstrate how Entain’s industry-leading technology can both revolutionise experiences for consumers and deliver real benefits to society.”

The development builds on Entain’s previous technology-focused activities, following on from the Entain Foundation’s double partnership with the Berlin University of Technology and Nexus Institute as well as a separate collaboration with the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) to develop executive training to enhance diversity in research and development.

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