Interactive 3D software provider, EON Reality, has opened its European headquarters in Manchester, taking the city closer to achieving its ambition of being a global digital city by 2020.
The Californian-based company's European operation, which will create 240 jobs over three years, includes a new global interactive research and development centre located in Central Park.
The project is an extension to The Sharp Project, Manchester's digital and production complex in Newton Heath.
The 10,000 sq ft space will house a virtual reality showroom designed by Atul Bansal, co-founder and partner at Manchester-based interior design consultancy, The Sheila Bird Group.
The project includes an Entrepreneur Coding School located in the building. The school will offer 100 free places each year to young people who can sign up for a 12-month full-time coding course, starting in September 2013.
The school will deliver a training programme aimed at developing Manchester's digital content workforce, specialising in interactive 3D technology skills. The course will include coding, 3D modeling, design and development.
The top 50% of each cohort will be offered a permanent job with EON Reality upon graduating, and one trainee will be awarded an internship in California or Singapore.
Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council said: "EON's commitment to train 500 local people over five years is very significant and will make a huge contribution to expanding the skill base of the area for an increasingly important sector.
"Apart from the technical knowledge, students will leave with a range of transferable skills which will open up a range of career opportunities in any chosen field."
Dan Lejerskar co-founder and chairman of EON Reality, said: "This facility will make Manchester the European centre for the creation of 3D content.
"This city shares our vision to grow the technology sector. What we are doing in Manchester is truly ground-breaking and will quickly spread to Europe and across the world."
Mats W. Johansson, co-founder, president and chief executive of EON Reality, said: "We are creating a learning revolution that will help future generations become better educated and succeed in core STEM subjects which are currently suffering a decline.
"We believe seeing is believing, which is why immersive teaching tools out-perform traditional learning methods across the entire curriculum. 3D virtual reality images are so powerful in engaging and explaining that attention levels and test results immediately increase."
Ken Swain, Managing Director of EON Reality in the UK said: "The Entrepreneur Coding School is already training its first cohort."