Oxford VR, a spin-out company from the University of Oxford, has raised £3.2 million with investors including Oxford Sciences Innovation, the University of Oxford, Force Over Mass, RT Capital, and GT Healthcare Capital Partners.
The company says this ‘new investment round’ will help it 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 last year in a large randomised controlled trial, with the results ‘gaining global acclaim’ when published in Lancet Psychiatry. The treatment is now being used in selected NHS clinics. While the company’s first treatment is for a phobia, it plans to tackle ‘the full range of psychological problems’.
CEO, Barnaby Perks, explained: “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’s research, combined with the advent of highly immersive consumer VR, means Oxford VR can develop treatments that are faster and more effective than traditional treatments, significantly cheaper to deploy, and – crucially – engaging and entertaining for users.”
Professor Daniel Freeman, chief Clinical Officer 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 published in Lancet Psychiatry. He explained: “Instead of a real-life therapist, we used a computergenerated avatar to guide users through a cognitive treatment programme. Everyone in the VR group saw their fear of heights diminish, with an average reduction of 68%, and half the participants seeing a reduction in fear of over three quarters.”