Mental health provider Ieso lands $53M for digital therapeutics backed by real-world data

Mental health firm Ieso's therapists have logged 460,000 hours with patients, which can be analyzed for insights on key therapeutic techniques and patient outcomes. (photo via Getty Images/Mykyta Dolmatov)

U.K.-based mental health firm Ieso raised $53 million in a series B round for its development of digital therapeutic systems, the startup announced Tuesday.

Ieso offers text-based cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety and depression as well as treatment for other mental health conditions with a network of 600 therapists. But the company has a different vision for its future—it plans to use the funding for expansion into autonomous, artificial-intelligence-enabled therapeutics.

The company has provided about 460,000 hours of therapy in total, which feed into a data set where Ieso can investigate certain therapeutic techniques and the patient outcomes associated with them.

The team has already developed AI tools that can analyze individual therapy sessions to identify potential treatment pitfalls, with plans to debut autonomous programs on the market to deliver therapy directly.

Ieso’s short-term goal, the company said, is to bring its autonomous digital therapeutics to the U.K. and U.S. markets, pending regulatory approval.

Morningside led the series B round, along with new investors including Sony Innovation Fund and participation from previous investors including the IP Group, Molten Ventures and Ananda Impact Ventures.

Founded in Cambridge,U.K., Ieso expanded onto the U.S. market a few years ago, but the company said its ultimate mission is to address the global mental health crisis.

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The company currently serves over 20 million patients with the U.K.’s National Health Service and also partners with employers, insurers and healthcare providers.

“We are in a global mental health crisis. There are simply not enough clinicians to assess and treat the growing number of people who need help,” said Ieso Chairman Andy Richards, Ph.D., in a statement. “Whilst we have seen an explosion in the number of mobile apps to help address mental health conditions, there is an urgent need for true digital therapeutics which have been approved for treating patients. Through the support of our investors, who share our purpose, we’ll continue on our mission of combining clinical expertise, data science and technology to enable better and more accessible mental healthcare.”

Mental health companies face one of the most competitive markets in digital health right now, with $3.1 billion going to startups in the space in the first nine months of 2021, according to Rock Health.

Text-based therapy, including services provided by chatbots, has been available for years, though Ieso’s extensive data set gives it an edge in developing its own solutions.

Digital therapeutics for mental health are gaining more recognition, too, including by government health organizations. In October, Scotland’s NHS made a CBT app for anxiety and insomnia called Sleepio available to all adults in the country.