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Softbank funds tech as medicine

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Big Health // Illustration by Kate Walker

Softbank funds tech as medicine

 

The Future. San Francisco-based startup Big Health has received major funding from Softbank to expand its app-based therapies that treat insomnia and anxiety. With the market for digital therapies heating up and showing promising results, every prescription may soon come with a QR code.

Over-the-counter apps
Softbank is betting that apps will become a routine part of any treatment plan. Its Vision Fund 2 has injected $75 million into Big Health.

The company has two marquee apps:

  • Sleepio helps with insomnia.
  • Daylight helps with anxiety.

Both are built on the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a widely-used psychological treatment. Leveraging tech, Big Health is making the treatment entirely digital.

Health home screen
After making public studies that showed their effectiveness, Big Health struck deals with several companies, including Boston Medical Group, Target, and Delta Airlines. Both apps count a total of 250,000 users, but 10 million are eligible to use them for free through the partnerships. The startup says that, with the infusion of funding, its next goal is to get the apps covered by insurers and to develop even more digital therapeutics.

Softbank’s sizable investment is a symptom of a simmering digital-health market. It also invested in Pear Therapeutics, which uses CBT to treat substance-use disorders. It recently received approval from the FDA. Another player, Atai Life Sciences, is building digital therapies that make its drugs more targeted for individual patients.