Sports betting and gaming group Entain is spending £40m to build an innovation hub in London that will build and trial entertainment technologies, including the metaverse and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
The innovation lab will open this spring in Charterhouse Square, Farringdon, near the UK headquarters of social media firms TikTok and Snapchat.
The money set aside for Entain’s London hub forms part of a wider £100m investment in “innovation projects, startup investments and collaborations” in the UK, Europe and globally.
The innovation hub, called Ennovate, will include an experience zone for people to “try out new immersive experiences in sport, gaming and interactive entertainment”.
Entain, which owns gambling companies Ladbrokes and Sportingbet, said the technology hub would develop entertainment products for the metaverse – a nascent virtual world that technology companies are billing as the next version of the internet.
Entain said it has partnered with technology companies Verizon, BT, and Theta Labs, along with accelerators and incubators.
“We want to lead the way with new, exciting products and experiences for customers and use our cutting-edge technology to pioneer innovations in sport, gaming and interactive entertainment for the metaverse,” said Jette Nygaard-Andersen, chief executive of Entain.
“We also want to use our position as a global technology leader to help drive innovation more widely. Working with partners around the globe, Ennovate will demonstrate how Entain’s industry-leading technology can both revolutionise experiences for consumers and deliver real benefits to society.”
The London-listed company added that it would make Ennovate lab technologies available to not-for-profit partners.
Entain’s investment is the latest sign of confidence in post-pandemic London, with Google recently spending $1bn on additional office space in the West End.