−Partners include Mozilla, Upload, VRBASE, Microsoft, Google, and StartupAmsterdam, alongside a dozen others.
−Participating communities include Harvard’s VR/AR Club, Stanford’s Rabbit Hole VR, VR@MIT, and the ETC at Carnegie Mellon University.
−Prizes include €30K cash to one of the winning teams and a space in Europe’s first VR accelerator, VRBASE.

Virtuleap is the organizer of the world’s biggest WebVR Hackathon, a 90-day online event that has launched last week alongside technology partners like Mozilla, Microsoft, and Google and founding partners like Upload, VRBASE, and StartupAmsterdam. Student groups at Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and the ETC at Carnegie Mellon have officially confirmed their participation in the hackathon alongside VR First’s academic network and Sketchfab’s 3D design community.

Teams that participate will be tasked with developing concepts in virtual reality completely in WebVR, the Javascript API that runs straight out of a web browser, which is all that is required to load up VR content on a laptop or mobile device. Unlike other VR engines, WebVR makes easy to use frameworks like Mozilla’s A-Frame, an open source library that doesn’t require knowledge of WebGL, accessible to developers and designers without any prior experience in building virtual reality content.

“We’re on a mission to push WebVR as the priority platform for the whole industry,” says Amir-Esmaeil Bozorgzadeh, co-founder at Virtuleap and the co-organizer of the global hackathon. “It’s platform agnostic, democratic, immediately accessible, and positioned where there is already an entire universe of traffic: the web.”

The platform at virtuleap.com officially went live on November 1st. Teams can begin submitting their concepts up to February 1st according to over 9 content categories including education, engineering, and healthcare. All of the approved submissions will be showcased on the portal and the winners will be selected through a voting mechanism and, lastly, by a panel of industry veterans.

“While games and entertainment content are allowed, extra brownie points go to teams that stretch their imaginations beyond just fun experiences,” adds Bozorgzadeh. “We want them to think about tools, tutorials, and products, and not focus on the easier gimmicky experiences that are fleeting, convert to nothing, or have no lasting impact.”

As part of the partnership with StartupAmsterdam, the prizes have been themed as full-blown adventures that fly out the winning teams to the innovation capital of Europe, Amsterdam. They include €30K cash and a slot in the first VR accelerator in Europe, VRBASE and a 3-month internship program at one of the largest VR studios in Europe, Force Field VR, all inclusive of travel and living expenses during their stay in the Netherlands.

“We think WebVR can play a big role in the search of true value adding VR/AR software, because of its ease of use and often open-source character, which in turn enables knowledge sharing,” said Daniel Doornink, Founder and CEO at the VRBASE.

The full roster of partners include Mozilla, Upload, VRBASE, Microsoft, Google, The Next Web, The VR/AR Association, Edoramedia, StartupAmsterdam, Dutch Game Garden, Force Field VR, GitHub, VR First, Sketchfab, Rockstart, and THNK – School of Creative Leadership.

"VR is evolving rapidly, whether it's interaction paradigms, uses, or hardware. At Mozilla, we're developing WebVR in order to empower people to shape their own experiences on the Internet," said Sean White, SVP of Emerging Technologies at Mozilla. "As a judge for the WebVR Hackathon, I'm excited to support open experimentation in these areas that reflects the unique and creative aspects of the web."