Niantic & Digital Catapult Launch Programme to Accelerate Real-World Metaverse Creation

When Pokemon GO creator Niantic Labs launched its Lightship software development kit (SDK) for augmented reality (AR) developers in 2021, the company spoke of its desire to build a “real-world metaverse” rather than a purely virtual one. Today, in the next step down that road Niantic has announced a new accelerator programme in collaboration with UK tech agency Digital Catapult, looking for UK-based startups to help build immersive AR experiences.

Niantic Metaverse

Niantic and Digital Catapult are teaming up with Cartoon Network and internationally renowned choreographer Wayne McGregor on the programme. Successful applicants will utilise the Lightship ARDK to build AR experiences for these brands, exploring the definition of a real-world metaverse, the social interactions that take place and how to bring people closer together.

Three startups will be selected for the Niantic Lightship Augmented Reality Accelerator which Digital Catapult will run under its own FutureScope accelerator programme. Each startup will be awarded up to £100,000 GBP to create a socially engaging AR demo.

“This unique collaboration with Niantic and Digital Catapult allows us to dream bigger and venture further into our evolving metaverse(s), visioning a new kind of shared creative adventure that untethers the imagination,” said McGregor in a statement. “This project provides everybody with accessible tools to tap into their innate creativity, to connect playfully with others and to explore their bodies and spaces they inhabit in surprising, limitless ways.”

Wayne McGregor
Wayne McGregor. Photo credit: Pål Hansen

“This new accelerator program with Digital Catapult will allow startups to push the boundaries of possibility with technology, creating groundbreaking new experiences for leading brands – and we are proud to unleash the potential of our Lightship Augmented Reality Developer Kit as part of this, Kate Carlyle, Senior Marketing Manager, Niantic’s Lightship Platform added.

Details regarding when the programme will begin and what sort of timeframe the startups have to build these demos haven’t been released at present. But if you’re UK-based and wish to apply then email

For continued updates on the latest immersive accelerators, keep reading gmw3.