Global investment in mental health technology has shown fivefold growth in the past five years to surge above half a billion pounds for the first time in 2019.
Octopus Ventures, one of the largest early-stage investors in Europe and part of Octopus Group, has today published a new study mapping the evolution of investment into mental health technology.
The research, based on analysis of the latest Pitchbook data, found that over the past six years, global funding in this area has witnessed a significant increase – from £120m in 2014 to £580m in 2019.
The study tracked total deal count in the sector, which has more than tripled in the same time period – up from 30 deals in 2014 to 105 last year.
The latest available data shows that funding rounds are increasing in size, with the average raise equating to £1.92m in 2019, compared to only £660,000 in 2014.
This trend accelerated back in 2016, when the likes of Big Health, the app that provides digital therapy for those suffering from insomnia and anxiety, announced a £9m funding round.
Similarly, stress reduction app Calm announced a £22m fundraise in July 2019, having achieved unicorn status at the beginning of the year when it raised an additional £70m.
Other notable funding rounds in this space include Compass Pathways’ £25m funding round in 2018, which is helping the company develop innovative care pathways and therapies within mental health.
Some £2.04bn was invested in mental health technology over the past six years, 15% of the total £13.7bn raised by digital health companies. This means for every £7 invested into digital health technologies, roughly £1 went towards mental health tech solutions.
Although the research also found that investment in mental health technology in the UK is on the rise – increasing from £350,000 in 2014 to £21m in 2019 – it also makes up a relatively small proportion of the global total (£580m).
Peter Hames, CEO of Big Health said: “We’re proud to be helping millions back to good health through our digital therapeutics Sleepio and Daylight, and encouraged that investors are increasingly recognising the potential of technology to tackle the mental health crisis.
“One in four people in the UK will suffer a mental health problem each year the UK economy millions – yet the prevalence of the issue is not reflected in the amounts invested.
“While the increase in investment is welcome, we hope investors do more in helping to address one of the foremost public health issues not only in the UK, but across the globe.”
Kamran Adle, early-stage investor in the Future of Health team at Octopus Ventures, said: “We are proud to have contributed to the rising investment in this space, opening up a discourse on what was once considered an unknown and unapproachable subject. This reflects our desire to invest in ‘taboo’ areas within the future of health.
“Mental health is a complex and nuanced field, which has seen a variety of solutions from a range of companies.
“However, we recognise that the venture capital industry can do more to address mental health difficulties.
“There is a huge opportunity for the UK to be a leader in this space and we are already working with companies in our portfolio that are tackling this issue, such as Big Health.
“Our aim is to find more entrepreneurs and early-stage companies that are building innovative solutions for the millions of people around the world who want to focus on – and improve – their mental health.”