NHS England funding for BfB Labs’ newest product

BfB Labs receives almost £1 million in funding for mobile game that tackles anxiety in young people

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BfB Labs is excited to announce an award of £964,308 from NHS England via the SBRI Healthcare initiative, which seeks to solve unmet health needs in innovative new ways.

BfB Labs is one of just two pioneering mental health medtech organisations to receive support from NHS England via SBRI, following an initial round of funding last year. This second injection will enable the company to complete product development of its new digital intervention that supports 7 - 12 year olds who suffer from anxiety. 

Half of mental health disorders start by age 14, and 10% of children in the UK have a diagnosable disorder. Existing healthcare provision is struggling to cope with demand, meaning that waiting lists are long, with only those in crisis receiving effective treatment. 70% of young people with disordered anxiety do not access any support at all. 

BfB Labs is developing a highly engaging and clinically evidenced digital intervention, in the form of a mobile game. The game will provide meaningful support for young people with anxiety by incorporating graded exposures to players’ fears into gameplay. In doing so, it facilitates exposure therapy, one of the key components of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), the NICE recommended intervention for anxiety. The game is designed specifically for 7-12 year olds for whom there is limited tailored support despite 50% of all lifetime anxiety disorders emerging before 12 years old (Creswell et Al. 2017), and can be delivered independent of, or prior to, direct therapist involvement. For mental health service providers, the product offers an early intervention that is scalable, cost-effective and evidence-based, with the potential to reduce CAMHS waiting list times and be deployed in harder-to-reach geographies or user segments.

Supported by academic partners at the University of Reading and MindTech, and clinical partners at Wellbeing Suffolk, BfB Labs tested the intervention in a usability pilot in January 2019. With this new funding from NHS England, the company will now complete the product development, and clinically validate the intervention through a trial, with an aim to launch in mid 2020.

BfB Labs co-founder Duncan Brown said: "There is an urgent need for effective digital interventions that can provide early and easily accessible support for young people suffering from anxiety. The intervention we're developing combines immersive gaming with evidenced therapy in a way that's never been done before and we're so excited that NHS England have recognised the potential impact of the intervention, and chosen to provide the funding needed to complete product development and roll it out"

BfB Labs is actively seeking conversations with CCGs, NHS Foundation Trusts, and other mental health care charities and providers who are interested in early-adopter pilots in 2020. If that's you then get in touch: hello@bfb-labs.com