Five year old Improbable closes $502m funding round to become UK’s latest unicorn

Japan's SoftBank takes minority stake in Cambridge University spin-out, which develops virtual reality software

Improbable, the virtual reality start-up spun out from the University of Cambridge, has landed $502m in funding from Japan’s SoftBank, valuing it at over $1bn and making it the latest UK company to achieve unicorn status.

Founded in 2012 by computer scientists Herman Narula and Rob Whitehead, now London-based Improbable’s cloud-based technology develops hyper-realistic digital worlds. As well as being used for gaming, it can be used to design infrastructure and model real-world systems.

Today, the company employs 200 people and licenses its technology to customers and other developers. Its platform is also available through Google, to allow anybody to create simulations.

The investment is not a majority stake for SoftBank, with its managing director Deep Nishar taking a seat on the board. Improbable raised $20m in 2015 from US venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, in what was one of Startups.co.uk’s biggest rounds of the year.

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