The links between Luxembourg and Japan are closer than they appear. Especially when it comes to Japanese popular culture. The Grand Duchy not only hosts one of the world leader companies in the design and production of high-end figurines inspired by the manga culture, it also welcomes one of the key partners of Japan Expo.

Since 1999, this fair has been a must attend event for all European lovers of Japanese popular culture. For four days, nearly 250,000 professionals and lovers of manga, video games, martial arts, fashion and Japanese music gather at the Paris-Nord Villepinte Exhibition Centre.

However, for two years now, the organisers of the event have entrusted Infiniris, a Luxembourg based start-up, with the creation and animation of their official stand.

An immersive experience

Infiniris developers will have 120 sqm of space available this year – it was 300 sqm last year – to offer an unforgettable virtual reality experience. “Our team of developers has been working in the video game and entertainment industry since 2013. They are among the pioneers of virtual reality,” says Inifiniris business developer François Scherer. “They have collaborated with such big names as Warner Bros and Universal.”

Seen from outside, the stand will not necessarily be impressive. It will even be very basic, with tables, computers, virtual reality headsets and uniform panels. “The universe we are building is virtual and accessible with special headsets. The idea is to offer to visitors an immersive experience,” explains Gaël-David Kallfass, project manager for Inifiniris. “We will also have some green panels, to inlay sceneries that will only be visible through the camera of a mobile phone.”

If the organisers of Japan Expo call upon Infiniris, it is because they have known their developers for several years, and their reputation is well known in the video game world.

Video game techniques adapted to the industry

Infiniris is the result of the merger of two start-ups. The first, Firis, was created in 2015 at Ellange Gare, near Mondorf, in Luxembourg. The small company is, first and foremost, positioned as a design office in embedded electronics and computing. However, it quickly realised that virtual and augmented reality is an increasingly popular tool in industry, particularly for training workers in safety practices or assisting in machine maintenance.

“We knew very well the founders of a small French company, InfiniVerse, which developed virtual reality solutions, but in the field of video games and entertainment,” says François Scherer. “We have therefore combined our skills to develop tailor-made solutions of high graphic quality for the industry.”

The merger of these two small companies led to the birth of the start-up Infiniris, which now has its headquarter in Luxembourg City Incubator, the House of Startups.

Real support for companies

This dual expertise allows the company to multiply large-scale projects. The latest one was developped with CEA Tech, the technological research department of the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energy Institute.

More recently, Inifiris has signed a partnership with a Swiss company to extend its expertise in the construction sector.

“We are all French, from the Lorraine region, but we made the choice from the beginning to create our company in Luxembourg,” explains Nicolas Van Damme, CEO of Infiniris. “The size of the country offers the advantage of being able to quickly access many public or private actors essential for the growth of a company. Whether it is the Chamber of Commerce or Luxinnovation, there is a real support for structures like ours.”