February 12, 2020 – Oxford VR has today announced the closure of a landmark GBP £10 million Series A funding round led by Optum Ventures and supported by Luminous Ventures. Existing investors including Oxford Sciences Innovation, Oxford University Innovation and GT Healthcare Capital Partners also participated in the investment round. The capital infusion will enable Oxford VR to accelerate the US expansion of its automated VR therapy solution and to continue to expand its treatment pipeline.
CEO Barnaby Perks said: “We are tremendously excited to close this investment round and to be working with Optum Ventures to drive our next level of growth. We would not be at this exciting tipping point without the collective efforts of the team at OVR, in particular Katie Bedborough, our CFO & COO. Together with Optum Ventures and Luminous Ventures, and with the continued support from our existing investors, we can expand our clinical leadership footprint and accelerate our pipeline of automated VR therapy treatments.”
Founded in 2017, Oxford VR is a spinout from Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry and builds on two decades of research by Professor Daniel Freeman investigating VR’s potential to create powerful, automated psychological treatments that revolutionise the way people experience therapy. Oxford VR’s first clinical trial for fear of heights, which was published in The Lancet Psychiatry, showed how automated VR therapy can produce large clinical benefits. The trial also demonstrated automated VR therapy’s capacity to transform mental healthcare by helping overloaded providers expand access and standardise clinical excellence, ensuring adherence to treatment protocols.
According to the 2019 Lancet Commission report on Global Mental Health, mental disorders are on the rise in every country around the world and will cost the global economy USD $16 trillion by 2030. From access challenges, poor outcomes, the high cost of care, low patient engagement rates and a shortage of skilled clinicians, there are huge unmet needs in mental healthcare. Oxford VR states that the investment recognises the “significant potential” of its automated VR therapy to address many of these challenges, and attests to the company’s existing work delivering automated VR therapy in a real-world setting in the UK’s NHS.
Along with today’s investment announcement, Oxford VR has also announced that Ash Patel, Principal at Optum Ventures will be joining the company’s Board of Directors. “Oxford VR has taken a technology-led approach to create evidence-based solutions that will make treatment more accessible to patients who need it,” said Patel. “We believe Oxford VR’s solutions will benefit those who need access to high quality, effective cognitive behavioural therapy.”
In addition to providing VR therapy to NHS patients, Oxford VR is participating in several trials. In the UK, the NHS-funded gameChange project is the first large-scale multi-site trial to use VR therapy to treat patients with serious and complex mental health conditions.
In Asia, Oxford VR has partnered with AXA Hong Kong and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in a pilot to test VR’s potential to support better mental health outcomes. In the US, OVR has established a strategic partnership with the National Mental Health Innovation Centre (NMHIC) where it is running multiple pilots using VR therapy treatment programmes to advance mental health outcomes in the US.
Izzy Fox, Principal of Luminous Ventures, commented: “Oxford VR has taken world-class science from Oxford University and applied cutting-edge immersive technology to create a transformational mental health solution which can deliver significant value for overloaded healthcare programs globally. Immersive therapy is accessible, engaging and effective, and has demonstrated exceptional clinical outcomes and we are thrilled to be partnering with the Oxford VR team.”
Video credit: Oxford VR/Vimeo