Davenport-based VictoryVR shared an international stage to show off how its virtual reality, or VR, curriculum can help students learn in a virtual world.

An excited Steve Grubbs, the owner of VictoryVR, was back home last week after his company was selected by ACER to provide the educational software for it to demonstrate at the BETT UK show in London, an education technology show.

"ACER is one of the biggest school partners in the United States... They needed software for their hardware and they chose us," he said. 

VictoryVR rolled out the VR software last year at Buffalo Elementary School — just down the road from the tech startup's west Davenport headquarters. But deals now already are rolling in to distribute the curriculum internationally, Grubbs said. 

"Schools in India are getting our product and we're rolling out in a mall VR store in a Hong Kong suburb," he said.

VictoryVR provides 48 units of science based on Next Gen Science Standards, including virtual comic books, interactive experience and dozens of field trips worldwide. "We teach engineering design on the Great Wall of China and earth's formation on the volcanoes of Iceland because students retain more when they experience them," Grubbs said.

The Great Wall footage was shot while his team was in China visiting Terry Branstad, now U.S. ambassador to China.

ACER also has selected the VictoryVR's curriculum to showcase at the Feb. 6-9 TCEA show in Austin, where thousands of educators will attend one of the nation's largest education technology shows.

"In just a few seconds, guests can take a spaceship to a black hole or drive a rover on Mars as they learn about the origins of the universe," said David Huang, Acer virtual reality product manager, said of the VR technology.

Grubbs said customer demand "is right where we hoped to be" domestically, but internationally it has moved much quicker than expected.

"When you’re working with a company out of Taipei (ACER's headquarters are in New Taipei City, Taiwan) and they are using your software at demonstrations around the world, that's not too bad for a company from Iowa," he said.

Quad-City winery

among Iowa's best

A toast to Wide River Winery which is in the running for the 2018 Winemaker of the Year Award from the Iowa Wine Growers Association. 

Wide River, owned by Dorothy O'Brien and her husband Charles Pelton, has locations in the Village of East Davenport, LeClaire and Clinton.

It is among seven Iowa winemakers nominated for the award. It honors an Iowa winemaker who has served as a leader in the industry by crafting superior Iowa wines, adhering to best practices of winemaking and demonstrating a willingness to experiment.

The Winemaker of the Year and other awards will be announced Feb. 18 at the Iowa Wine Awards Banquet at The Cellar Winery/The Chateau in Elkhart. The event is part of the growers' annual conference.

For tickets, visit iowawinegrowers.org or call 515-282-8192.

Also representing the Quad-City region is Brian and Sheila Jones and their 3 Sons Vineyard in Columbus Junction, which is competing for the 2018 Vineyard of the Year Award.

Slumberland helps

Bethany with new beds

Thanks to Slumberland's store in Davenport and Moline, Bethany for Children & Families provided many of its families with new mattresses.

The donation was made through Slumberland Furniture's annual Making Homes for Holidays program. This year's donation included 35 mattresses and bed frames. 

"It's a great feeling to be able to give back to the community and help improve someone's quality of sleep," said Lee Kerr, who owns the local Slumberland stores.

This marked the ninth year Slumberland has made the donation.

Bill Steinhauser, Bethany's president and CEO, said the program "is a generous and kind way of helping individuals in need."

Biz Bytes is a weekly column by Quad-City Times reporter Jennifer DeWitt. Contact her at 563-383-2318 or jdewitt@qctimes.com

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