University of Oxford spinout inks clinical paper in Lancet Psychiatry, appoints CEO and sets up Oxford HQ and London development hub
Oxford VR, a spinout company from the University of Oxford, has raised £3.2m with investors including Oxford Sciences Innovation, University of Oxford, Force Over Mass, RT Capital and GT Healthcare Capital Partners. This new investment round powers the pace of company growth to bring automated immersive, clinically validated Virtual Reality (VR) technologies to market as user-centered treatments for patients with mental health problems.
Oxford VR’s first product, an automated VR treatment for height phobia, was tested this year in a large randomised controlled trial, with the results gaining global acclaim in the Lancet Psychiatry. The treatment is now being used in selected NHS clinics.
“Our focus is on developing clinically validated, cost-effective, user-centred treatments for clinical conditions with significant impact on patients, the health system and wider economy. That means targeting complex conditions such as psychosis and social anxiety,” states Barnaby Perks, CEO of Oxford VR. “I am delighted to lead a company that will transform mental health for millions by combining state-of-the-art immersive technology with world-class science from the University of Oxford.”
Professor Daniel Freeman, CCO of Oxford VR, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford and Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, led the Fear of Heights study. He states: “Instead of a real-life therapist, we used a computer-generated avatar to guide users through a cognitive treatment program. On average, people spent around two hours in VR over five treatment sessions. Everyone in the VR group saw their fear of heights diminish, with the average reduction being 68%. These are amazing results: better, in fact, than could be expected with the best psychological intervention from a real-life therapist.”
David Norwood, Co-founder of Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), said: “Mental health problems are incredibly common, debilitating, and costly to society. Yet only a fraction of the people who need them have access to the treatments that work. We believe Oxford VR can make a huge contribution here, dramatically improving the lives of millions of people around the world.”