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How virtual reality could revolutionize training in the pharmaceutical industry

First associated with games and entertainment, virtual reality scaled up in the past few years by finding its way to the training field. This arouse many interrogations: is VR-training truly relevant compared to regular training? What kind of added value it brings? Is it an interesting device for training in the pharmaceutical industry? As research still goes on in the academic field, some answers can already be brought, either in a learning or economic matter.

Definitions and generalities:

Virtual Reality (VR) is a sub-category of Extended Reality (XR), which groups technologies meant to alter perception of reality. In its case specifically, VR intends to create a whole virtual environment in which users can move and interact with their surroundings using a headset device and controllers.

Many advantages are brought by this technology, such as being repeatable, risk-free, on-demand, measurable in terms of results, customizable and allowing to save time and money on material or in updates of the formation.

Those technical added values however also might enhance learning matter: for example, both repeatable and customizable factors allow to improve transferability of the knowledge as defined by Salomon and Perkins (1989), transferability being part of a meaningful learning alongside retention.

Our proposition

By creating The Pharmaverse, our intentions are to help pharmaceutical industries facing the talent shortage experienced by the field, the exponential production of knowledge, which was indicated to double every 24 hours in 2020 through new technologies, and to enhance knowledge sharing.

This project aims to create a training platform with lessons on various topics in virtual reality. As of now, a proof of concept on bacterial fermentation had been developed alongside our academic and technical partner, the MiiL (Media Innovation and Intelligibility Lab, UCLouvain). This prototype focus on displaying the potential this medium harbors, either in technical or creative means, as well as the use that could be done of it as a tool for education.

As a mean to enhance the effects of virtual training, an Immersive Learning Cycle has been conceived. Based on three steps - induction, explanation, and anchoring - its goal is to reach a high level of retention of knowledge within only one hour of training. This cycle was created while keeping interaction as a focal point, and ensuring this procedure remains eminently human-centered.

Using the customizable features of virtual reality, we are currently discussing with industries on their needs to construct new lessons soon and make hard topics easier to understand and to retain.

Associated research

As research on the matter allows to hope that crossings between virtual reality's qualities and learning theories seem relevant and possible, we aim to validate or nuance those hypotheses. For this purpose, we intend to pursue some research and test the efficiency of virtual reality in training combined to the use of our Immersive Learning Cycle.

Follow the evolution of the project on LinkedIn and on our website.


- Gobin Mignot, É., Wolff, B., Kempf, N. (2019). Former avec la réalité virtuelle : Comment les techniques immersives bouleversent l'apprentissage. Dunod.

- Hillmann, C. (2021). UX for XR : User Experience Design and Strategies for Immersive Technologies. Apress.

- Salomon, G., & Perkins, D. N. (1989). Rocky Roads to Transfer: Rethinking Mechanism of a Neglected Phenomenon. Educational Psychologist, 24(2), 113-142.

- Mayer, R. E. (2002b). Rote Versus Meaningful Learning. Theory Into Practice, 41(4), 226‑232.

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