Superscape ties up IBM marketing deal

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Superscape VR, the virtuality group, saw its share price soar yesterday after announcing that it had tied up a marketing deal with IBM, the US computer giant. Shares in the group, which were floated on the stock market at 198p nearly two years ago, leapt 75p to 539p on the news, which is expected to be the prelude to agreements with other big electronics groups.

Under the terms of the latest deal, IBM will market and sell Superscape's virtual reality software and other services in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the former Soviet Union. The British group, based at Hook in Hampshire, said it expected to sign a further agreement with IBM covering Asia Pacific and North and South America in the next few weeks.

John Chiplin, chief executive, said: "Superscape is a small company, so to have a major partner like IBM to distribute the product is great news for us." IBM is expected to concentrate its marketing effort on big US Fortune 500 companies, Mr Chiplin said. The technology provides a three- dimensional moving image which recreates reality in a wide range of applications. Users include training businesses, defence contractors, computer games and media groups in a market which the company claims is worth pounds 2bn to pounds 3bn and growing at 50 per cent a year.

The IBM deal follows marketing link-ups last year with Gateway 2000, a big US personal computer group, and Northern Telecom, the North American telecommunications group. Northern has licensed software from Superscape, whose virtual reality technology is used for training operators, engineers and other employees.

The company is among the world's five biggest virtual reality software developers.