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Brief Published: 31 Mar 2021

Investors Back Psychedelic Mental Health Treatments

Psychedelic treatment investment reached $448m in 2020

The psychedelics market is heating up after 2020 saw the industry’s most substantial investment increase to date. We expose emerging opportunities – and controversies – in psychedelia’s journey to the mainstream.

  • Take it to Group: After years of being seen as counterculture, consumers are embracing psychedelics for their therapeutic benefits, especially for people suffering from treatment-resistant mental health conditions. Later this year, Portland’s Department of Veterans Affairs hospital is conducting an 11-week study into group dosing of psychedelics, to treat veterans suffering from PTSD.
  • An Upward Trip: This social trajectory reflects landmark psychedelia investment in 2020, which reached $448m compared to $95m in 2019 (CBInsights, 2021). 
    Illustrating this boom is Berlin-based biotech company ATAI Life, which raised $157m of funding in March after a successful $125m funding round in November. The brand owns 10 drug development companies, each of which explores a different compound’s potential to treat mental health ailments, including Compass Pathways which produces synthetic psilocybin.
    The ramp-up of investment is not just relevant to the psychedelics industry, adjacent markets such as travel are preparing for the impending demand for mind-altering experiences – see The Brief.
  • Who Owns Psychedelics?: Earlier this month, American entrepreneur and psychedelic therapy investor Tim Ferriss raised his concerns about patents in psychedelic pharmacy and their potential to gatekeep industry access and prioritise profit over human benefit. Co-founder of ATAI Life, Christian Angermayer, disagreed. Notably, Compass Pathways was awarded two patents for its crystalline psilocybin on March 23. 
    The debate was explored in-depth in a Vice article, highlighting intellectual property, cultural appropriation and capitalism issues in this flourishing market. It’s an essential read for all brands considering entering psychedelia and encourages reflection on motives for doing so.