Europe Poised for Exponential XR Industry Growth

XR Association and Ecorys release European XR industry survey.

(Stock photo.)

Europe could become the world’s extended reality (XR) leader based on a report by the XR Association in partnership with economic research firm Ecorys.

Building on a 2017 report that predicted XR would create between 1.2 million and 2.4 million jobs in Europe by 2025, the most recent report validated that this growth trajectory is still on track. The European XR industry is anticipated to be valued between €35 billion and €65 billion by 2025, with up to €40B added to Europe’s economy.

“As in the United States, XR in Europe is revolutionizing the ways we train, learn, create, play, and most importantly connect,” said XRA CEO Liz Hyman. “In an increasingly digital world, XR is becoming a business imperative.”

The report found that more than 93 percent of European XR companies surveyed forecasted sales growth over the next three years; two-thirds expect revenues to spike by over 50 percent. The amount of change could be extraordinary, with 94.8 percent of companies predicting moderate to exponential growth within three years. The last three years are a strong indicator as 86 percent of XR companies indicated sales increases.

The applications of XR technologies are far-reaching, from assisting with remote surgeries to manufacturing, education and gaming applications. Much of the growth will likely occur in enterprise sectors versus commercial ones such as manufacturing, product development, collaborative working, customer relationship and horizontal activities, the report concluded.

There were already signs of greater XR adoption during the COVID-19 pandemic, which drove scores of people from their workplaces to work-from-home scenarios necessitating the digitization of work and potentially creating a new class of XR consumers rendered more familiar with digital products. While the pandemic itself slowed industry growth temporarily, the expansion is expected to pick up at an even faster pace by 2022 as the economic recovery gains momentum. Furthermore, while the movement toward remote work has been criticized as hampering collaboration among workers, advances in enabling VR meetings could help achieve a more personal and involved experience.

Germany and the UK currently lead Europe’s XR industry. However, activity hubs permeate the continent, focusing on the areas of software development, content creation, and hardware. Some XR innovation projects are being funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 initiative. Projects include ARETE, an education program expanding AR in education; ARTwin, an AR cloud and digital twin platform for the construction industry; and PRIME-VR2, a project applying virtual gaming to rehabilitation purposes.

Based in Germany, a project called Health Reality, which researches VR and AR applications in healthcare to advance clinical results, is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The report found that 82 percent of European XR companies aim to digitize their products for business areas related to training. Top use targets also include product design, prototyping and sampling. Others said their products would be used for the purpose of conducting meetings and manufacturing.

“XR’s potential to drive economic recovery, growth, and transformation is staggering,” said Alexandros Vigkos, Senior Consultant for Digital Economy at Ecorys. “Our 2021 findings underscore the importance of aligning our regulatory landscape and job training programs to help the technology realize its potential for Europe.”