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Virtual science lab startup Labster bags $10M to accelerate its ed tech play

Ed tech startup Labster whose software platform enables virtual simulations of laboratories for teaching life science to students, has closed a $10 million Series A round of funding led by early stage European VC firm Balderton Capital. Stockholm-based Northzone is also joining the round, as is Unity Technologies founder David Helgason — clearly spying strategic potential in a platform that makes use of 3D gaming environments for an educational purpose.

Labster launched its lab simulation software back in 2013, after founding the business in 2011 and initially working on the concept in stealth. It has created around 65 simulations thus far, covering life science study topics — from a basic introduction to acids and bases where students perform a simulation of handling corrosive chemicals and get to see the consequences of not following good lab safety protocol, to a simulation of using a confocal microscope (a piece of lab kit that can run to multiple thousands of dollars in its physical form).

All the 3D simulations include games and challenges designed to keep students engaged and learning — such as murder mystery puzzles and multiple choice quiz questions, with text theory also available for students’ reference. The 3D environments are designed much like point and click adventure games, meaning lab equipment can be interacted with and environments navigated by clicking around.