FLAIM Systems, a startup that emerged from Deakin University, raised $6.7 million in a Series A funding round. Breakthrough Victoria, the Victorian government’s investment fund, took a minority stake in the business for $5 million. The capital will be used to expand FLAIM’s operations, further develop its technology, and create 25 new jobs by 2026.
FLAIM has developed a fully immersive virtual reality firefighting training system, which combines a VR headset with haptic technology that creates a kinaesthetic “feels-real” experience. The system includes a thermal vest that reproduces the heat that firefighters experience in different scenarios and simulates an operational fire hose. This offers a safe and cost-effective way to replicate the stress and uncertainty of real-world fire situations.
The startup’s CEO, Simon Miller, has invested $1 million since the seed round four years ago. Existing seed investors, including major shareholder Deakin University, Significant Capital Ventures, and FLAIM management and staff, chipped in the balance of Series A. The FLAIM Trainer tracks performance data, from task completion time to air and water usage, stress levels, where the trainee moves and looks within the scenario, and how they position themselves and interact with virtual objects.
FLAIM emerged out of Deakin in 2019 and has clients in more than 300 emergency services agencies, defense, training organizations, and private enterprises across Australia, the US, and the UK. The FLAIM Trainer has over 80 VR training scenarios, spanning bushfires to fires on aircraft, industrial sites, and residential properties. Many members of the FLAIM team are firefighters, including Chief Technical Officer Dr. James Mullins, a third-generation rural Victorian firefighter with a background in robotics engineering and virtual training capabilities.
“Firefighters put their lives on the line to keep our community safe – this innovation in virtual reality training will help keep them safe during training and provide the experience they need on the frontline,” he said.
“We see a real potential for this world-first Victorian technology to be adopted by emergency services agencies around the world.”
John Brumby, the chair of Breakthrough Victoria and a former state premier, said he understands the importance of training for emergency responders. The FLAIM Trainer is a safe and cost-effective way to train firefighters, especially in the wake of the use of toxic chemicals at a Victorian training facility that led to increased cancer risk for firefighters who trained there. Last year, the state government introduced a $57 million redress scheme to support around 1,300 firefighters exposed to the carcinogens during training at the former Fiskville training facility, which shut down in 2015.
The fresh capital will set up FLAIM for global expansion, said Simon Miller. With its fully immersive virtual reality firefighting training system, FLAIM is poised to revolutionize how firefighters are trained and prepared for real-world fire situations.
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