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VictoryXR Is paving the way for the future of VR and AR education

This story is part of a series titled “EdTech In Iowa,” an exploration of startups, individuals and trends in Iowa’s edtech ecosystem. The series is sponsored by Iowa EdTech Collaborative, a network of internationally-known education companies, successful edtech startups, educators, and economic development leaders working collectively to grow human-centered K-12 and lifelong learning in Iowa.

Virtual reality in education has taken off in recent years with an increasing number of schools adopting the technology, changing how students learn and educators teach.

In 2016, Steve Grubbs founded VictoryXR, a Davenport-based company that creates augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) educational content for schools and students.

“In 2015, I tried some low-level VR,” said Grubbs, founder and CEO of VictoryXR. “And while most people were thinking about gaming, I was thinking, ‘Wow, what a great way to educate students.’ And so we launched VictoryXR in 2016.”

VictoryXR deployed its first product to Buffalo Elementary School in Davenport, Iowa, in early 2017.

“When people first try VR, it’s an amazing experience. But if you don’t have the right use case, that experience sort of drops off,” said Grubbs. “But if you do have the right use case, then it becomes something that they continue. So we’ve spent the last five years trying to figure out who the right customer is, what the right use case is, and know what the business models should look like.”

The company was initially building educational content for middle school in high school students but in the last 18 months, has moved into higher education as well.

To date, the company has created over 240 unique VR & AR experiences spanning more than 50 different learning units. More than 100 school districts have purchased VictoryXR content and there have been over 50,000 downloads of the company’s content from various platforms. The company currently has 21 employees and is currently working on raising a seed round, Grubbs told Clay & Milk.

“What we’ve really tried to do is to create a lot of content as affordable as we could,” said Grubbs. “If you walk into a traditional library, there are 1000s of volumes. Nobody wants to walk into a library with one or two volumes on the shelves. You need a lot of content. That’s really what we have work to do is to build that level of content.”

In 2019 VictoryXR won Best Educational VR software at the Viveport Developer Awards, and in 2021 the company received the PIEoneer Award For Digital Innovation Of The Year.

Grubbs says the virtual reality learning experience offers more to students than the typical Zoom-based online learning style. Beyond the capabilities of 2D screens, VR can help enhance the learning experience for students studying biology, chemistry, history, and other subjects by offering a more immersive learning environment.

In Dec. 2021, VictoryXR announced it is working with Meta Immersive Learning to launch digital twin campuses — replicas of existing campuses constructed in fully spatial 3D — at colleges and universities in the United States in 2022. This includes the construction of digital twin campuses where students can move about, socialize, learn and compete in activities, as well as live classes that students can access remotely.

The Morehouse College campus in VictoryXR. 
Photo courtesy of VictoryXR.

Victory XR worked with Morehouse College to launch the first digital twin “metaversity” in the spring of 2021 as a way to improve remote learning during the pandemic.

“We’re confident that we will remain the leading digital twin campus builder in the world. And we are confident that, probably 10% of the world’s colleges and universities will build a digital twin of the next three or four years,” said Grubbs.

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VictoryXR Is paving the way for the future of VR and AR education | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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