Funding Opportunities for Mental Health Startups, What’s on the Horizon?

While the European Parliament voted to finally unlock the €95.5B Horizon Europe research programme, a recent article from Science Business has shed a light on the programme's expected investment in mental health R&D. According to Science Business, with 82.7 million people in the EU affected by a mental disorder, mental health costs Europe €600 billion every year. A staggering burden that many psychiatrists believe may increase further after the past year of lockdowns and uncertainty.

Brain disorders investment under Horizon 2020

Throughout the seven years of Horizon 2020, the previous EU-wide research programme, the European Commission invested in mental health innovation and research projects over €870 million. More investments in R&D on brain disorders – neurological and mental alike, is now needed to help tackle the issue under Horizon Europe. Although the Horizon 2020 funds are expected to generate significant breakthroughs in the way we prevent, diagnose and treat mental illness, they also show that mental health wasn't at the top of the Horizon 2020 priorities. Science Business reports that an analysis of the 2018-2020 Horizon 2020 work programme for health research as a whole, found that only 2.3% of calls directly addressed mental health, while 15% of calls related to infectious diseases. Cancer research, on the other hand, received over €3 billion under Horizon 2020.

VC money going towards consumer solutions

On the VC market, mental health startups have never been hotter, with global investment surging above the €600m mark in 2019. A 2020 report from Octopus Ventures, one of Europe’s largest venture capital funds, found that over the last six years global private funding in this area has rapidly increased from €138 million in 2014 to €667 million in 2019. However, most of the VC money went to US-based startups developing consumer apps, like Big Health, the company behind sleep app Sleepio, and meditation app Calm, which has recently hit coveted unicorn status. For European startups developing radical innovations in the mental health arena, the funding opportunities provided by Horizon Europe remain the most accessible source of financing. And it comes as no surprise that many companies are already looking into the new research programme, actively scouting for the calls that best suit their projects.

The EIC Accelerator funding opportunity

With a budget of roughly 1.5 billion Euros this year and every other year between now and 2027, and a focus on strategic healthcare innovations, the European Innovation Council (EIC) presents significant funding opportunities to the European startups developing innovations in the mental health arena. Through their flagship funding scheme, the EIC Accelerator, the Council will invest in deep tech start-ups and SMEs up to 17.5 million Euros in the form of grants and equity. Throughout the EIC Accelerator pilot phase in 2019-2020,  Alien Technology Transfer has been supporting innovators in every technology field getting financial support from the EIC. Among them, our firm is particularly proud of having been part of the successful funding journey of the following mental health technology innovators:
  • Taliaz is an Israeli company developing PREDICTX, a novel decision-support and treatment validation platform for mental health. The PREDICTIX platform analyses thousands of combinations of data using state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms to empower effective and rapid assessment, management and accurate prescribing decisions. The innovative platform technology was awarded an SME Instrument Phase 2 grant by the EIC in 2020.
  • BrainQ Technologies has received funding from the EIC Accelerator to develop their AI-powered electromagnetic field therapy aimed at reducing disability following neuro disorders and stroke. BrainQ’s device is an investigational non-invasive medical device for promoting neuro recovery processes and reducing disability. See the EIC project description here.
  • Elminda develops technology that predicts responsiveness to antidepressants and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) treatment to reduce the time from diagnosis to amelioration of symptoms for MDD patients. Backed by an SME Instrument Phase 2 grant, the technology currently under development determines personalised treatments for MDD patients based on validated electroencephalogram and event-related potential brain-related biomarkers. The tool improves response rates, quality of life and results in significant savings for the healthcare systems.
Alien Technology Transfer’s European funding experts help innovative companies to navigate the new EIC Accelerator, providing them with exclusive insights and a head start into the new programme. Want to know more about our services? Contact Alien Technology Transfer now.

Published Date:04/30/2021