Kortrijk teams up with VR specialists to boost innovation


The Park’s fourth site in Flanders is a collaboration with the city’s digital arts bachelor programme, and will help train students as well as entertain the public

Next-generation reality

Virtual reality start-up The Park has opened a new venue in Kortrijk in a partnership with the city’s university college. Kortrijk is home to the bachelor’s degree in Digital Arts & Entertainment (DAE) at Howest, an innovative programme that has won a number of industry awards.

The new park is not only an entertainment venue but also an innovation centre. “To remain relevant in these changing times, we must constantly encourage innovation through, among other things, strategic partnerships,” says CEO Philippe De Schutter. “So it was a logical choice for us to help develop Kortrijk’s innovation ecosystem with Howest’s DAE training.”

Howest students will be able to have lessons in the VR venue so they can grow their expertise in an inspiring environment, while The Park provides essential tools and data allowing them to work more accurately on innovative developments in the industry. Together they have already developed a playable production that is under development.

Beyond conventional VR

The Park also wants to go beyond the conventional view of XR – the collective term for new technologies that integrate a virtual world into the real world, such as augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR).

“The presence of The Park and the access to their technology, know-how and data provide enormous added value for testing new game concepts aimed at target groups other than the usual shooter gamers,” says Lode De Geyter, CEO of Howest. “The new venue can be used for developing and testing “exergames”, for example, in which players have to make physical efforts to be able to play.

Kortrijk is increasingly profiling itself as a hotspot for innovative hubs to expand and develop their activities. “With Hangar K, an inspiring hub that brings together starters, growers and established manufacturing companies, the first building block of a local ecosystem for the manufacturing industry in Kortrijk was laid in 2017,” says mayor Vincent Van Quickenborne. “The Park builds on this by actively stimulating innovation.”

The Park opened its first venue in Antwerp in 2018, followed shortly by sites in Ghent and Hasselt, and the start-up quickly became a fixture in the world of virtual reality. Its game based on De Dag, the acclaimed Flemish TV crime drama series, brought it international attention. The Kortrijk site opened on 1 November.