VA awards OxfordVR $500,000 in Mission Daybreak grand challenge to reduce Veteran suicides
The organization, which recently came under the BehaVR umbrella, won third place with its gameChange solution, a landmark psychological therapy for individuals with psychosis
NASHVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 16, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has named OxfordVR as a winner in Mission Daybreak — a $20 million challenge designed to help VA develop new suicide prevention strategies for Veterans. As a third-place award winner, OxfordVR, which recently came under the BehaVR umbrella, will receive $500,000 to further support the company’s work in developing virtual reality (VR) solutions to address mental and behavioral health challenges in support of Veterans.
OxfordVR was the first to successfully automate psychological therapy in VR for patients with mental illness through its immersive, VR delivered gameChange treatment, which targets the intense fears and anxieties that prevent people from fully participating in everyday activities. gameChange, which was recently granted FDA Breakthrough Device designation, delivers an automated course of cognitive behavioral therapy that enables users to practice overcoming their fears in curated simulations of everyday situations guided by an automated, virtual therapist. While gameChange is currently approved as a treatment for individuals experiencing psychosis, it was designed to target agoraphobic avoidance – an underlying symptom of a number of conditions including PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder and OCD. The company is currently working to demonstrate the treatment’s effectiveness across a broad and diverse set of indications and is partnering with the VA to demonstrate its effectiveness in helping home-bound veterans re-integrate with their communities and the VA Medical System.
“We’re humbled to have our gameChange treatment selected as a promising piece of a solution to help the VA support veterans and look forward to working with the VA to ensure veterans and their families can build the lives they deserve,” said Aaron Gani, BehaVR’s Founder & CEO. “If this work helps support even one veteran and family, it’s a win – but we’re excited by the opportunity to make a broader impact on Veteran Suicide.”
About the Challenge
From May to July 2022, Phase 1 of the challenge received 1,371 concept submissions from solvers that included Veterans, Veteran service organizations (VSOs), community-based organizations, health tech companies, startups, and universities. Multidisciplinary panels of reviewers and judges assessed submissions according to the evaluation criteria.
Following Phase 1, 30 challenge finalists each received $250,000 and advanced to the Phase 2 virtual accelerator program, which helped them develop ambitious but achievable roadmaps for prototyping, iteration, testing, and evaluation. Technology partners supporting the accelerator included Amazon and Microsoft. In November 2022, finalists had the opportunity to speak about their solutions with challenge judges and representatives from VA, Veteran Service Organizations, Capitol Hill, and policy institutes at Demo Day, held at the Samsung Executive Briefing Center in Washington, D.C.
The multidisciplinary judging panel — representing a diversity of perspectives, from Veterans and clinicians to social workers and technical experts — evaluated submissions from the 30 finalists in Phase 2. The panel recommended the 10 winners based on the official evaluation criteria.
Following Mission Daybreak, VA may engage with select solutions through contracts, Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), or other partnership vehicles.
Visit MissionDaybreak.net for more information on the challenge.
Reporters covering this issue can download VA’s Safe Messaging Best Practices fact sheet or visit ReportingOnSuicide.org for important guidance on how to communicate about suicide.
BehaVR is a leader in building evidence-based, immersive, digital therapeutics designed to create a more resilient world, liberated from fear and pain. Its suite of clinically validated therapeutics offer access to treatments on a spectrum across mental wellness and mental and behavioral conditions, including validated treatments for serious mental illness. BehaVR is the first immersive digital therapeutics company to deliver these treatments on an integrated platform that simplifies the patient experience, enables clinician oversight, and generates patient-specific care plans and measurable outcomes. Combining a team of accomplished clinicians and researchers with proven healthcare veterans and technology innovators, BehaVR is dedicated to improving access to better mental health through immersive technology.
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