Angela Silva

Xavier Palomer

Founder, Psious

The cofounder of Psious, a Spanish company that develops virtual-reality treatment for mental-health issues, had a complicated journey to starting his company in 2014. A physics undergrad who also studied electrical engineering, Palomer has worked on subsystems for satellites in collaboration with the European Space Agency.

He dropped out of his doctorate program to launch Psious, which is now used by 2,000 mental-health professionals to treat more than 15,000 patients in 50 countries.

“We want to achieve something significant — improve mental health globally — and, by using technology, we can help to do this,” he tells Business Insider. “The mind is an incredible machine, and we want a better understanding of our complex feelings and emotions, so we have created tools to do this.”

Psious says its virtual-reality treatment — which takes patients through digital simulations and monitors patients’ anxiety through biofeedback — allows those with mental illness to reduce their worries.

“In vivo exposure may be intense and it has shown a higher rate of rejection from patients than VR exposure,” Palomer says. “This may be the first step to normalise psychotherapy.”

Palomer adds: "Mental-health issues, now more than ever, play a very important role in people's lives."