British Columbia

Welcome to The Cube: Vancouver gets its first virtual reality hub

The Cube in Vancouver's Railtown aims to get virtual reality startups off their feet by providing workspace, cheap gear and a lot of heads to bounce ideas off of.

The Cube in Railtown aims to help virtual reality startups get off their feet

The green room in The Cube lets gamers immerse themselves in a virtual world. (Cliff Shim/CBC)

Founders of a new virtual reality hub are hoping to turn Vancouver into a VR powerhouse.

The Cube is a new tech incubator in Vancouver's Railtown, focusing solely on companies involved in VR and augmented reality.

Co-founder David Gratton says the space aims to help startups get off the ground, offering entrepreneurs workspace, cheap gear and a lot of heads to bounce ideas off of.

"This is a place that brings everyone together," Gratton told CBC News. "This is really critical for us to take advantage for what's going to be a new type of computing that's going to dominate the world in the next five, seven years," he told CBC News.

The virtual ribbon cutting was held on Thursday, which included Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Canada's minister of innovation, Navdeep Bains, and B.C. Jobs Minister Bruce Ralston.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson tests out an augmented reality head set. (Cliff Shim/CBC)

Creating jobs, but short supply

Gratton says the goal is to facilitate the growth of augmented reality, which is becoming a cornerstone of B.C.'s booming tech industry.

However, there are challenges ahead.

The sector is currently experiencing a major labour shortage that's expected to swell over the next five years.

As many as 35,000 jobs will need to be filled by 2021.

"There's already a shortage of engineers and 3D talent," said Gratton. "This hub is about retraining people with core skill sets in 3D animation, visual effects and general computing on how to do [virtual reality] computing."

Gratton says the space, which was created as an extension of B.C.'s Tech Innovation Hub, will offer technical training programs run by instructors at BCIT to keep workers skills up to date.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, B.C. Jobs Minister Bruce Ralston and Canada's minister of innovation, Navdeep Bains, cut the ribbon at the grand opening of The Cube. (Cliff Shim/CBC)