Monday 3 December 2018 12:26 am

Bristol 'virtual touch' firm raises £35m

Virtual touch technology company Ultrahaptics has raised £35m in a new funding round and brought in a major new backer.

The University of Bristol spin-off has developed technology that projects the feeling of an object like a switch or a knob into a users’ hand.

This is done by speakers sending out sound waves from black pad the size of a computer keyboard, and Ultrahaptics says it has applications in virtual reality games, music and in cars.

The series C round is its largest raise yet at double the size of last year’s B series and brings in a new investor in Mayfair Equity Partners.

The company has raised over £50m from investors since its foundation in 2013.

Existing backers IP Group, Woodford Investment, Cornes and Dolby Family Ventures also took part in the oversubscribed series C raise.

LSE-listed IP Group held 37.9% of Ultrahaptics as of December 2017.

The tech company’s CEO Steve Cliffe said the new cash would be used on developing and commercialising the “next generation” technology.

The units cost between £1,700 and £6,500 each, according to US distributor Arrow.

Mayfair managing partner Daniel Sasaki said his firm was sold on the technology’s prospects.

“The potential for mid-air haptics systems within immersive infotainment systems and human-machine interfaces is very compelling and exciting,” he said.

This is not the firm’s first Bristol investment, as it has a stake in Ovo Energy, but marks its first move into the technology research space.

Mayfair owns Yo! Sushi and has also backed special effects, computing and advertising firms.

Ultrahaptics did not disclose the size of Mayfair’s holding after the raise.