Competition to create virtual reality films for people with dementia

Suffolk County Council is supporting Dementia Action Week with a competition to produce virtual reality films for people living with the condition.
Published: 16 May 2023

The competition is part of a nationwide initiative called VR Challenge UK and will be launched at a virtual event in the Metaverse on Thursday.

It is being run by Suffolk County Council in conjunction with Spark Emerging Technologies Ltd as part of the council’s recently awarded contract to develop a new, bespoke virtual reality (VR) app to deliver therapeutic experiences to people living with dementia across all Suffolk care settings.

Young people and adults from across the UK will be invited to get involved with this opportunity to create meaningful and stimulating VR films for people living with dementia.

The competition is open to amateurs and professionals, as well as students from further and higher education, carers, and people living with dementia themselves.

It is hoped nursing and residential homes, day centres, as well as Further Education Colleges, universities and charitable organisations from across the UK will grab this opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of people with dementia.

The free Metaverse launch event will open from 12.30pm on Thursday 18th May for a 1pm start,and can be experienced with a VR headset as well as via any web-browser.

To register for the event, visit where you will then receive the link you need to join.

You are advised to allow plenty of time before the start of the event at 1pm to choose an avatar and acclimatise to the 3D virtual surroundings.

Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Care, said:

“Ten years of clinical research has shown that virtual reality experiences can provide people living with dementia with a fuller and more satisfying quality of life, and lead to improvements in well-being, cognition, and communication – but there are still relatively few care settings in which these experiences are available.

“This competition is an opportunity to help us develop a cutting-edge application which will allow more people with dementia in Suffolk to access these experiences.”

Dan Betts, Managing Director of Spark Emerging Technologies Ltd, said:

“Despite the current excitement over augmented and virtual reality in society, it is all too common that these innovative platforms are used for experiences that do not necessarily enhance our lives or add genuine social value.

“This is despite very clear clinical research that suggests that these platforms could do so much good, in particular for those living with severe and debilitating conditions like dementia.

“This competition allows anyone to be a part of something that will improve the lives of those living with dementia through innovative means. Regardless of whether you are the next Steven Spielberg or just a budding amateur videographer, this competition will offer you the capability to show off your creative flare but through a highly rewarding solution that will make a difference to the lives of thousands of people.”

In the first round of the competition, entrants will simply be invited to submit a brief storyboard of their proposed film for one of the following six categories:

  • Suffolk
  • Nostalgia
  • Nature
  • Leisure
  • Computer Generated Imagery (CGI)
  • Carer content

The deadline for the submission of storyboards will be Friday 30th June. Shortlisted candidates will then proceed to the second round of the competition where they will receive exclusive support from Spark to go on and plan, film and produce their proposed films by the deadline of Thursday 31st August.

The final VR films will be evaluated by people living with dementia before being judged by a specialist panel. The winning films will be showcased at an awards ceremony in mid-October.

Winners in each tier of the competition will have the opportunity of choosing from three prizes: a brand new Insta360 X3 360 camera kit; a top of the range Oculus Meta Quest 2 VR Headset; or to gift a year’s subscription to the new VR app with all the required hardware to a care setting of their choice.

More details can be found on the competition website at