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OxfordVR - based on the work of Daniel Freeman - was spun out of the Department of Psychiatry in 2016

Woman wearing a virtual reality headset next to a computer screen © Image produced by the MRC

OxfordVR, a spin-out from Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry, has combined with BehaVR, a US-based leader in virtual reality (VR) and digital therapeutic experiences, to provide therapies to tackle the global mental health crisis.

Based on the research of Professor Daniel Freeman, OxfordVR was spun out in 2016 with support from Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE). Its gameChange product, recently granted FDA Breakthrough Device designation, treats patients suffering from some of the most  serious mental illnesses with cognitive-behavioural VR therapy.

OSE is now co-leading funding for the $13 million merger between the two ventures, which will see the work continue under the BehaVR brand.

Professor Freeman said:

This year we reported the results of a large clinical trial that showed the benefits of gameChange for patients with psychosis. This exciting merger, and the further funding raised, will help in the crucial next step of getting gameChange into clinical services both in the UK and USA. VR will become a key part in the future provision of mental health treatments and we believe that this merger will help that to happen."

Virtual reality allows clinicians to create multi-sensory patient experiences that the brain processes as real. These interventions are tailored to each patient’s unique behavioural health needs. Operating under the BehaVR brand, the comprehensive VR treatment platform will help providers, payers and employers deliver and increase access to enhanced behavioural care. 

Alexis Zervoglos, Senior Partner (Tech) at Oxford Science Enterprises, said: “By combining OxfordVR’s pioneering science with BehaVR’s platform, global access and commercialization capabilities, the new BehaVR can transform how patients with psychiatric and mental health conditions can be treated at scale. We are proud to have supported Daniel Freeman and his team at OxfordVR, and we are delighted to continue supporting BehaVR on this important mission in mental healthcare.”

BehaVR’s comprehensive platform will treat anxiety, stress, pain and addiction using real-time biometrics, protocols and machine learning models. These therapies can be delivered by a wide range of clinical staff, peer group members and at home.

Deepak Gopalakrishna, CEO of OxfordVR, added: What an exciting time for digital innovation in mental health. We’re at a critical inflection point in the industry where the onus will be on companies to bring evidence based, clinically validated treatments to patients that providers, payers, and employers can confidently stand behind. This brings together two of the leading organisations pioneering this work and will enable us to accelerate that future.”