Irish-founded Woebot Health gets $9.5m investment from Bayer

16 Mar 2022

Image: © Murrstock/Stock.adobe.com

Woebot Health and pharma giant Bayer have also agreed to assess joint opportunities on delivering integrated care in the mental health space.

Irish-founded tech company Woebot Health has secured a $9.5m investment from pharma giant Bayer’s investment arm, Leaps by Bayer. This will be used to accelerate the development of the start-up’s AI-powered chatbot for healthcare and other products.

The fresh funding brings the total amount invested in the company to more than $123m. It follows a Series B funding round in 2021, when the company raised $90m in a round led by Jazz Venture Partners and Temasek.

Future Human

Woebot Health has developed an AI chatbot that attempts to create a therapeutic bond with users and help them with clinically tested strategies to improve their mental health.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Woebot was founded by University College Dublin graduate Dr Alison Darcy. Digital treatment development caught her eye when she studied psychology at the university in the late 1990s.

“I always thought that technology would be able to solve some of the problems we have with access because most people aren’t getting in front of a clinician or a doctor when they need help,” she told SiliconRepublic.com in 2020.

The funding is Leaps by Bayer’s first investment in the mental health industry, as the company seeks to broaden its portfolio.

“With its deep focus on clinical evidence and unique AI-based platform and products, Woebot Health is forging a new frontier in behavioural health at a critical time in our world,” Leaps by Bayer head Dr Jürgen Eckhardt said. “We’re excited to support endeavours that will make tech-supported continuous care a reality for all.”

Woebot Health has also announced a collaboration with Bayer Pharmaceuticals as part of the G4A Digital Health Partnerships programme. The companies have signed a letter of intent to assess joint opportunities on integrated care in the mental health space.

“We’re honoured to join forces with a company that is committed to innovative, evidence-based approaches to conquering such significant challenges,” Woebot Health CEO Michael Evers said.

“Great mental health outcomes depend on supportive relationships. Together with our employer, health system and plan partners, we can create a world where empathic and meaningfully engaging mental health interventions reach everyone in their moment of need.”

Last May, Woebot’s digital therapeutic tool WB001 was granted breakthrough device designation by the US Food and Drug Administration. WB001 combines cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy to reduce symptoms of postpartum depression, and patients can interact with the digital therapeutic via smartphone.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com