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UK tinnitus health startup scoops £510,000 and joins Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator

Oto tinnitus funding

UK digital health startup Oto has raised £510,000 in pre-seed funding and has been selected to join Silicon Valley’s prestigious Y Combinator accelerator.

Oto, which provides tinnitus support via a mobile app that compiles and consolidates the latest therapy techniques, said it will use the cash to accelerate clinical validation and strengthen its international user-base. The funding will also facilitate several key hires to spearhead product development, ahead of a seed round planned later this year.

The pre-seed round saw the participation of Acequia Capital, West Midlands Academic Health Science Network SME Innovation Fund, CalmStorm Ventures, Bethnal Green Ventures and notable angel investors such as Simon Franks, Errol Damelin, Alex Stephany, Matt Robinson and Ian Hogarth.

In being accepted to Y Combinator, Oto has become one of just 15 UK healthtech startups to join the exclusive Silicon Valley accelerator since it started accepting companies in 2005.

Y Combinator provides seed funding and mentoring for promising startups. It has supported some of the world’s most successful tech disruptors including, Airbnb, Dropbox and Reddit.

Earlier this week, Y Combinator unveiled a new funding model for YC companies, more than quadrupling the capital it provides from $125,000 to $500,000.

Oto will use the backing to transform the delivery of support for tinnitus, for which there is currently no cure and affects up to one in seven people globally.

According to the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance, the recommended first-line treatment for tinnitus-related distress is digital cognitive behavioural therapy but there has been no definitive solution.

Oto’s co-founders include tinnitus patients and former military doctors Dr Edmund Farrar, Dr George Leidig and specialist registrar in ear, nose and throat surgery Dr Jameel Muzaffar.

The startup’s mobile platform is built by audiologists, doctors, therapists and researchers and aims to maximise their quality of life for those with tinnitus.

Oto’s three-month virtual bootcamp starts this month and will culminate in an end of cohort demo day, where it will present to a carefully selected audience of investors, looking to invest in the next tech game-changer.

“Tinnitus can be debilitating and so as a team, we’re looking forward to learning from the very best innovators and entrepreneurs as we explore new ways to accelerate our growth and make a difference in the lives of as many people living with tinnitus as possible,” said Dr Edmund Farrar, co-founder of Oto and former RAF doctor.

Dr George Leidig, co-founder of Oto and former Royal Navy doctor said: “The incidence of tinnitus is rising, and yet it is an isolating condition which is overlooked and traditionally poorly managed. We believe that effective therapy should be accessible to everyone with tinnitus so our mobile app allows anyone to access a fully-fledged targeted CBT programme created by tinnitus experts.”