SWINDON-born entrepreneur Mark Miles has spoken in front of one of the world’s biggest technology conferences.

His talk at London’s Virtual Reality Show marks a high point for the businessmen who left school with just one GCSE – in art.

Mark, 43, is founder and managing director of Rendermedia. Set up almost six years ago, the Kingsdown business now makes virtual reality products for some of the world’s biggest companies.

Last year Mark’s team won plaudits for a virtual reality application for marketing and innovation for aeroplane manufacturer Airbus. Wearing a virtual reality headset, people could take to the cockpit of an airliner jet, fly a helicopter rescue and glide over the planet Mars.

And this weekend Mark stood up in front of industry insiders at the Virtual Reality Show at London’s Business Design Centre to tell companies that they are missing a trick.

“We want to educate businesses on how they can get into virtual reality,” Mark said.

“At the moment you’ve got a lot of global companies with different divisions. These divisions don’t always talk to each other. They work in silos.”

According to Mark, using virtual reality – which creates a three-dimensional world in which people can interact – could save businesses thousands of pounds.

He explained: “If you have a company that works in oil and gas, what you can do with virtual reality is create an oil rig and then you can create a multi-user training experience.

“A trainer could be in the UK, but the student could be on a site in Germany. But they could both be stood next to each other on the oil rig in VR and they see each other as avatars.”

Earlier this year Rendermedia’s work was taken to a top industry show in Las Vegas by mobile phone company HTC.

Their virtual reality aircraft trips – developed for Airbus – have been shown to HTC’s customers in America, Europe and Asia.

“That Airbus project has changed the business,” Mark said. “It’s gone worldwide.”

But despite calls from across the world, Rendermedia’s managing director is clear that the business’s home is in Swindon.

“I’ve lived in Swindon all my life. My home’s here,” dad-of-two Mark said.

And now the businessman wants to develop the “untapped talent” in his home-town – forging links with local colleges and offering Swindon a way-in to the competitive virtual reality industry.

“We’ve got really good relationships with the schools. We take on the students from schools. They get work experience and we advise them on university courses.

“It’s all about getting them ready for work and university.”

The company has worked with Lydiard Park Academy for the past two years – offering careers advice and work experience to the school’s students.

In 2015 Lydiard students helped Rendermedia develop an app showing the workings of pioneer Sir Frank Whittle’s jet engine. The app was nominated for two Media Innovation Awards.

Now, the company is helping Lydiard Park Academy redesign its A-level computer science curriculum – with Mark’s team coming in to show off their latest apps and helping students navigate the complex software.

Dermot McLaughlin, Lydiard Park Academy’s faculty leader for ICT, computing and business, said: “Kids are enthused by new technologies. Augmented reality and virtual reality is very much where it’s ‘at’.

“For them to be able to see a business nearby that’s doing it – and are interested in them – is great. It gives kids a better idea of career options. It’s a great opportunity to attract people to the course and to give people a pathway to a creative future.”

And for one Swindon College student who has recently secured a one-day-a-week job at Rendermedia, to better prepare him for when he comes in full time after he finshes his course, the future looks very bright indeed.

Leon Johnson, 17, is currently studying for a B-Tech in Digital Creative Media Production at the college. The Upper Stratton teen applied to do work experience at Rendermedia – but so impressed Mark’s team that they offered him paid work instead.

Leon said: “It’s brilliant. I was doing all this kind of work at home. I had no idea there was any 3D in Swindon and then to be told not only is there 3D but VR on my doorstep is amazing.”

The teen, whose parents were “blown away” when he was offered the job, added: “Originally the plan for me was to go to college and then to university. But I think, now, staying on at Rendermedia and having this place where I can learn at work would be really beneficial.”

Mark was no-less ambitious when he was Leon’s age. He crashed out of school with just one GCSE – a C grade in art. He was forced to retake his GCSEs at Swindon College, leaving with the National Diploma qualification.

“I couldn’t even get a job operating a printer in Havelock Street,” he said. “I worked in call centres, factory warehouses. But I always knew what I wanted to do.”

Now, he visits schools to try and convince children of the importance of working on core subjects like English and maths.

“I ask: ‘Do you play games on your phone? Do you like maths?’ No. Well, I say, if you do maths you could work for a company that makes games like this. And then the penny drops.”

For Mark, education needs to have more goals – children need to see where they are going.

“If they don’t see that’s at the end they can quite easily give up – there’s no interest.”

And the goal could well be Rendermedia. The business is growing fast, Mark says – with turnover doubling year-on-year.

“The challenge we’ve got now is how you scale a business, whilst also growing a business.”

But with design contracts with Airbus underway and appearances at big trade shows planned, it’s a challenge Rendermedia looks likely to win.