Automated Virtual Reality Therapy Pioneer Oxford VR Secures Record $12.5 Million Investment to Advance Its Real-world Impact in Behavioral Health, and Accelerate Clinical Leadership in the U.S.

– Over 26 million Americans with a behavioral health issue go untreated.[i]

– Investment will enable next-level growth of pioneering immersive therapy for depression, anxiety and other behavioral health conditions.

– Largest investment funding for VR therapy in the UK and Europe.[ii]

OXFORD, England, Feb. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — VR therapy pioneer Oxford VR announced today a landmark $12.5 million Series A funding round led by Optum Ventures and supported by Luminous Ventures. Also participating in this investment round are existing investors including Oxford Sciences Innovation, Oxford University Innovation and GT Healthcare Capital Partners. This capital infusion will enable Oxford VR to accelerate U.S. expansion of its evidence-based and scalable automated VR therapy solutions for behavioral health issues, and to continue expanding its treatment pipeline into conditions such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Oxford VR signs landmark investment deal, Feb 12th 2020. Pictured: Barnaby Perks, Founding CEO, Oxford VR and Ash Patel, Principal, Optum Ventures.

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 revolutionize the way people experience therapy. 

Oxford VR’s first clinical trial for fear of heights, which was published in The Lancet Psychiatry, shows how automated VR therapy can produce large clinical benefits. Results achieved were significantly better than expected, with the best psychological intervention delivered face-to-face by a therapist. This landmark trial also demonstrated automated VR therapy’s capacity to transform behavioral health care by helping overloaded providers expand access and standardize clinical excellence, ensuring adherence to treatment protocols.  

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.” 

Behavioral health disorders are on the rise in every country around the world and will cost the global economy $16 trillion by 2030.[iii]  There are major unmet needs in behavioral health care, including access challenges, poor outcomes, the high cost of care, low patient engagement rates and a shortage of skilled clinicians. This investment recognizes the significant potential of Oxford VR’s automated VR therapy to help address these challenges, and how the company is already delivering automated VR therapy in a real-world setting in the UK’s NHS.

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,” said Patel. “We believe Oxford VR’s solutions will benefit those who need access to high quality, effective cognitive behavioral 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 behavioral health conditions.   

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.

In Asia, Oxford VR has partnered with AXA Hong Kong and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in a first-of-its-kind 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.

Speaking about Oxford VR, Matt Vogl Executive Director and Co-Founder at US National Mental Health Innovation Center said “Oxford VR’s immersive therapy is backed by research, is scalable and has the potential for significant clinical impact in the US.”

About Oxford VR:

  • Oxford VR (OVR) is a global pioneer developing automated VR therapy that builds on two decades of ground-breaking clinical research by Daniel Freeman, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford University Department of Psychiatry and Chief Clinical Officer and co-founder of OVR.
  • As a Tech for Good enterprise, OVR is committed to developing evidence-based, cost-effective and scalable solutions that build behavioral healthcare capacity using cutting-edge VR technology.  
  • OVR’s automated VR therapy translates evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) through immersive virtual reality environments to provide a powerful new evidence-based psychological treatment.
  • Behavioral health problems are inseparable from the environment. In VR therapy, individuals put on a headset and enter VR simulations of the situations and environments that trigger their symptoms. Throughout their treatment, individuals are asked to complete several different tasks that are graded in difficulty and are coached on helpful responses. The VR environments give people reassurance they can try out new things safely and that they’re not in any real danger. The great thing about VR therapy is that the behavioral changes made in the VR environment transfer to the real world.
  • Because VR therapy is automated, prized therapists can be redeployed to more urgent cases or other aspects of care.

About Optum Ventures:

  • Optum Ventures is the independent venture fund of Optum, a leading information and technology-enabled health services business dedicated to helping make the health system work better for everyone, and part of the UnitedHealth Group.
  • Optum Ventures invests in digital health companies that use data and insights to help improve consumers’ access to health care services and how care is delivered and paid for, and that make the health care system more reliable and easier to navigate. For more information, visit

About Luminous Ventures:

  • Luminous Ventures which was founded by partners Isabel Fox and Lomax Ward, is an early stage venture fund, investing in daring, visionary founders with breakthrough technologies and innovative ideas that can positively change the world.
  • Backed by a network of families, Luminous Ventures invests from Seed onwards in UK, Europe and Asia. The Luminous Ventures portfolio includes Hadean, Synthace, BioBeats, FaceSoft, Active Global, Astroscreen and Beyond. For more information, visit 

Editor’s Notes:

[i] Mental Health America 2020
[ii] Analysis of Crunchbase funding status of key players in VR Therapy 2020
[iii] Lancet Commission report on Global Mental Health, 2019

For further information please contact:
Simon Merritt, Communications Director
M: +44-7967-251850

Rachel Dalton, PR Consultant
M:   +353-86-382-5896


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