Welsh Company Hits Fundraising Target to Expand Virtual Reality into Healthcare

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Wales-based immersive technology in healthcare pioneer Rescape Innovation has hit its £300k target through Crowdcube to help the company expand its proven use of virtual reality in the treatment of patients and to help frontline NHS staff.

The Crowdcube fundraiser has already hit its £300k target at a pre-money valuation of £3.1m, with significant pledges already secured from angel investors and Development Bank of Wales. Through Crowdcube, Rescape now has the opportunity to overfund, giving investors a stake from as little as £11.76 in a fast-moving sector that has really shown its value during the pandemic.

Rescape partnered with Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and the Centre for Trials Research at Cardiff University to demonstrate the very human benefits VR has brought to frontline NHS teams facing COVID-19, and the potential to roll out this technology and increase the adoption of VR in a range of future medical treatment plans.

Rescape already has a track record in the use of VR to support patient recovery and rehabilitation, working with cancer patients at Velindre Hospital and cystic fibrosis patients in Cardiff and Vale Health Board; and the value of VR has also been evidenced in mums in childbirth.

Now, for the first time, they’ve been successfully using virtual reality through their DR.VR platform to help reduce anxiety and stress amongst NHS staff tackling the pandemic, which has far reaching implications on NHS costs. In January this year alone, before the pandemic struck, over 434,000 work days were lost to anxiety, stress, depression and other psychiatric illnesses amongst NHS staff; and to give an idea of scale, a reduction of one day per staff member per year saves the NHS £150m.

Launching the Crowdcube fundraiser, Rescape Innovation CEO Matt Wordley said:

This is the latest push in our aim to become the leading global provider of immersive technology solutions, including VR, in healthcare and associated marketplaces. It gives anyone the opportunity to have a stake in this innovative technology for as little as £11.76; which, apart from being a great investment in a growing company, gives people the warm feeling they are providing proven benefits to patients and staff, and reducing costs in the NHS. We already have interest from over 10 hospitals and trusts across the UK in the next scale-up of trials.

Luke Lang, co-founder of Crowdcube, commented:

Rescape joins a growing list of healthcare technology businesses that have successfully fundraised with Crowdcube since the Covid-19 pandemic started earlier this year. Rescape's mission to use virtual reality to help reduce stress and anxiety for NHS employees and improve patient wellbeing has clearly inspired people to invest in the innovative business, which is now overfunding.

Dr Michelle Smalley is a clinical psychologist working in Intensive Care Units in Royal Glamorgan and Prince Charles Hospitals in Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board. She said:

Roles radically changed on March 13, with a dramatic increase in stress and anxiety amongst frontline medical and nursing teams for both themselves and their loved ones. My role pivoted to focus on staff wellbeing and support, and trying to limit burn out; so we worked with Rescape to bring in DR.VR headsets to see if it would prove a useful aid in reducing anxiety, and give the medical teams some much needed relief.

Being a clinical psychologist in unprecedented times has called for unprecedented measures to help support staff. From the moment I tried these headsets out myself, I realised their potential for helping with anxiety and stress, but we have to be evidence based in our approach.

The DR.VR Frontline Relief evaluation is available on the new FutureVision.Health web platform, a portal set up to promote the benefits of immersive technologies in healthcare. The main results from the evaluation suggest that staff found using VR was an enjoyable experience, and they would recommend use to their colleagues to aid relaxation and for reducing stress. In particular, staff valued the meditative spaces and breathing exercises.

The evaluation is available on http://futurevision.health/research/

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