Bristol touchless technology company Ultraleap raises £60m

A Bristol company that has developed touchless technology used by brands including PepsiCo and Lego has raised £60m in a Series D funding round.

Ultraleap will use the investment to scale and commercialise its tech for existing and next-generation computing platforms, it said.

The company’s new investors include Chinese multinational technology conglomerate Tencent; British Patient Capital through its Future Fund: Breakthrough programme; and Hong Kong-based CMB International.

The firm’s existing shareholders are Mayfair Equity Partners and IP Group plc, which also invested in the round.

Tom Carter, Ultraleap chief executive, said: “The metaverse concept is not new to Ultraleap. It has always been our mission to remove boundaries between physical and digital worlds.

“The pandemic has accelerated the rise of the term as more people now understand the power of enhancing the physical world with digital elements.

“For Ultraleap, this new era is not constrained to VR headsets. Like the internet, it is a reality we will interact with in all parts of life: at home, in the office, in cars, or out in public.”

Mr Carter, who studied for an MEng in Computer Science and a PhD in Human Computer Interaction at the University of Bristol, co-founded Ultrahaptics (now Ultraleap) in 2013.

He took the top prize in the University’s New Enterprise Competition that year, winning £15,000 plus six months’ support at the University’s tech incubator SETsquared Bristol.

Tom Carter, chief executive of Ultraleap (Image: Ultraleap)

The company has gone on to secure major deals for its technology, including with CEN Media Group in the US to install screens that can display standard adverts and touchless interactive content in cinemas.

It has also created an application – known as TouchFree – that lets companies retrofit existing kiosks and touchscreens so people are able interact with the screen without touching it. The company uses camera technology and hand-tracking software that means the screens can work with touchless gesture control.

Ultraleap’s recent announcement of their fifth-generation hand tracking platform, known as Gemini, means its hand-tracking software is now available across multiple platforms, camera systems and third-party hardware.

The company is planning to bring Gemini to different operating systems and increase investment in tooling, it said. It is also planning to invest in R&D to drive its machine-learning-based hand tracking.

Mr Carter added: “This raise doesn’t just give us greater resources to scale, but our investors provide us insights and access to our targets markets as well. The timing aligns with the demand we are seeing from our customers across key verticals.

“I’m so proud of what the team has achieved to date to get us closer to our primary interface mission, and I am even more excited for where our mission will take us next.”

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Hannah BakerSouth West Business Editor