Newcastle-based app developer hedgehog lab is to establish a virtual reality academy in the North East.

The six-month course will welcome an initial intake of 20-30 students looking to arm themselves with skills in areas of immersive technology.

The academy is the brainchild of hedgehog lab’s director of immersive technologies Shaun Allan and Pocket Money Games’ Frankie Cavanagh.

One potential venue for the centre is the proposed new R&D facility for emerging technologies in Gateshead’s Baltic Digital Quarter. Gateshead Council has backed this idea.

“This sector is going to be getting very busy, very soon,” said Allan.

“The aim is therefore to fill the void in skills training and get people industry-ready as quickly as possible.

“I am also confident we can make the North East the place to be for VR development. We hope to get the biggest players in VR involved.”

Half of the time on the course would be spent on formal training on development platforms such as Unity with the rest on virtual, augmented and mixed reality projects.

“We want people from a range of backgrounds - from graduates to those that show a natural creative and technical ability that doesn’t necessarily fit into the usual formal education route; we want the mavericks and those who dare to think differently,” added Allan.

“And we want them to feel they’ve accomplished something just by joining this initiative. We want it to be aspirational, in line with the hedgehog lab ethos.”

hedgehog lab, which was founded in 2010 and has offices in London, the US, Denmark and India, set up its own immersive technologies division earlier this year.