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Labster raises $10 million to bring virtual lab simulations to more science students

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Danish edtech startup Labster has raised $10 million in a series A round of funding led by Balderton Capital, with participation from Northzone and Unity Technologies founder David Helgason.

Founded out of Copenhagen in 2012, Labster partners with major STEM institutions, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard Medical School, and London’s Imperial College, to help students learn biology, chemistry, and physics through 3D virtual lab simulations.

A budding medical student may use a simulation to learn more about gene regulation, for example, as outlined in this video.

The company currently offers 64 simulations, including one that enables students to participate in the handling of corrosive chemicals and one that teaches them how to use a confocal microscope. The simulations also include games and challenges to facilitate engagement.

Though the simulations are designed to be accessed through multiple devices, including tablets and phones, they do lend themselves particularly well to the burgeoning virtual reality (VR) industry — and VR headsets are something that Labster said it is increasingly supporting.

There are three basic subscription plans for Labster access, including the $9 per month high school student tier, a $19 per month university student tier, and an “enterprise and institutions” tier with bespoke pricing that’s available on request. The company now claims customers in 25 countries.

Prior to this latest funding round, Labster had taken on more than $10 million in grant funding, and with its latest cash injection it plans to expand its service in the U.S. and Europe. Plans including creating new simulations for science students, as well as a plan to “initiate special projects” in other regions, including South America, the Middle East, and Africa.

“By uniting elements from the psychology of learning, virtual simulations, and gaming, Labster is helping students learn more effectively and use resources that might be otherwise impossible to access,” explained Labster founder and CEO Mads Tvillinggaard. “This funding from Balderton Capital and Northzone will give us the opportunity to engage even more students globally, helping young people achieve their qualifications as well as opening up their minds to the applications of science.”

It’s easy to see how Labster would appeal to both students and educational institutions, as the virtual environment circumvents the expenses and hazards of real-world experiments. There is no limit to the number of times a student can repeat an experiment through Labster, and, if nothing else, it serves as a good way to practice before attempting an experiment in a real lab.

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