UK-based Oxford VR has today announced the closure of a landmark €11.9 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 have also participated. The funds will be used to accelerate US expansion of its virtual reality therapy solution and to continue to expand its treatment pipeline.
Founded in 2017, Oxford VR has been on our radar recently and was included in our list of 10 European VR startups to watch in 2019 and beyond, and our article 10 UK-based startups to watch in 2019 and beyond. As a spinout from Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry, the startup has a wealth of evidence-based data behind it. Building on two decades of research by Professor Daniel Freeman, the startup uses virtual reality to create powerful, automated psychological treatments that revolutionise the way people experience therapy.
Oxford VR’s first clinical trial was for fear of heights (published in The Lancet Psychiatry) and shows how automated virtual reality therapy can yield large benefits, as well as help overloaded mental health providers expand their treatment reach and standardise clinical excellence. With mental health disorders on the rise in every country around the world, sustaining low patient engagement rates and high cost of care, virtual reality therapy could be part of the answer in addressing these challenges.
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.”
Izzy Fox, Principal of Luminous Ventures said: “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.”
Along with this investment, Ash Patel, Principal at Optum Ventures is joining the Oxford VR 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. We believe Oxford VR’s solutions will benefit those who need access to high quality, effective cognitive behavioural therapy,” says Patel.
As part of its expansion in the US, the startup OVR has established a strategic partnership with the National Mental Health Innovation Centre (NMHIC), where its multiple pilots are aiming to advance mental health outcomes in the US. And it doesn’t stop there, with the startup also looking to the East. Having partnered with AXA Hong Kong and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), the company is also running a first-of-its-kind pilot to test virtual reality’s potential to support better mental health outcomes in Asia.