A spinout from Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry as raised $12.5 million Series A funding 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 funding will go to Oxford VR supporting the acceleration of the U.S. expansion of its virtual reality therapy solution and to continue to expand its treatment pipeline.

The Core Problem

Mental health disorders are on the rise in every country around the world. Some report that these disorders will cost the global economy $16 trillion by 2030. There are major unmet needs in behavioral health care—from poor outcomes, high costs of care and low engagement rates not to mention shortages of skilled clinicians. In the developed world “speed-up” driven by globalization and competition, ubiquitous technology in people’s lives including 24X7 online/social media, rising cost of living and lack of perceived time for rest, family and important relationships to emerging economy challenges where mass migration in places like China and India from countryside to city and perhaps the evolution from dependence on community/village/small town in many countries to  individualistic-based, market-driven economy realities, create the conditions for an measurable increase in behavioral and mental health challenges throughout the world. At the same time, at least in the developed world, low patient engagement rates coupled with the high cost of care ensures that many are left untreated. The fundamental underlying hypothesis for a venture such as Oxford VR: that virtual reality could represent a core answer to get individuals the help they need in a standardized and scalable way.

Who is Oxford VR?

Founded in 2017, they are a spinout from Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry leveraging the wealth of evidence-based data developed over two decades of research by professor Daniel Freeman. Oxford VR currently employs an estimated 25-50 based on available information.

What do they do?

The startup uses virtual reality to create powerful, automated psychological treatments that they purport to revolutionize the way people experience therapy.

What was their first Clinical Trial?

Based on a study of the fear of heights, the results were 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 standardize clinical excellence.

What is their Product?

Driven by extensive research, Oxford VR delivers automated “protocolized” psychological treatments delivered using cutting edge VR technology. Based on a “therapeutic approach” Oxford VR builds treatments leveraging state-of-the-art immersive technology. As many effective treatments are in fact “active” meaning that patients interact in situations they find difficult and practice more helpful ways of thinking and behaving the reality of doing this with a face-to-face therapist is often incredibly challenging. However, with the right VR platform this structured but dynamic interaction can be facilitated in the Oxford VR virtual environment.

Based on the cognitive therapy approach and basing therapeutic techniques on tested theoretical models for each problem set, the automated therapy of Oxford VR is hence, tailored to each condition, with efficacy demonstrated in supporting clinical trials.

What is new with their Expansion to the U.S.?

Oxford VR’s expansion into America includes a strategic partnership with the National Mental Health Innovation Center (NMHIC) where multiple pilots are aiming to advance mental health outcomes in America.

Where else are they Expanding?

The venture is also looking east to Asia; they have inked a partnership with AXA Hong Kong and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) to support better mental health outcomes in Asia.


TrialSite News suggests that the Oxford VR-based technology, if it works as purported, could have significant potential in behavioral health-based clinical research especially when considering the move toward decentralized, patient-centric, remote studies.

Source: EU Startups

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