Ross Harper, Founder and CEO of Limbic

Continuing their P4SY Accelerator Programme Founder interviews, the team have been talking with Ross Harper, Founder and CEO of Limbic


CEO: Ross Harper
Programme: P4SY
Sector: Precision Medicine
Location: Sheffield 
Website: Home | Limbic 

Thanks for joining us. So –

Can you tell us more about Limbic?

Mental health problems are a leading cause of disability – a major health issue worldwide. Currently the existing supply of mental health professionals is insufficient to match the prevalence of mental health conditions and the needs of patients. Remote therapists are still limited to a small supply to hire. This isn’t anyone’s fault – it’s just a reality. The gap between availability of mental health professionals and patients needing care is strikingly large – it’s just such a big problem. 

Limbic was established in response to this problem. We are a problem-focussed company. Our creativity and innovation in everything we do comes from starting with a problem and looking downstream of that. 

So, at Limbic we looked at mental healthcare and thought – maybe we can close that gap. 

We’ve seen other companies focus on developing digital therapies, which certainly have their place, but we can’t forget that these treatments are not a replacement for therapists. 

We use AI to augment service delivery – one therapist goes further with Limbic, and as such we boost access to mental health professionals. 

Who have you created Limbic for?

There are 1.7million adult patients referred to NHS talking therapies for common mental illness every year. That’s not including children or severe mental illness. In terms of cost, Limbic has the potential to save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds in released clinical hours every year. 

We provide software for mental health services by integrating a friendly AI assistant (chatbot) at various points in the care pathway. Out AI assistant serves different purposes depending on where it is found in that pathway. It’s been designed for patients and healthcare professionals. It’s all about augmentation of professional support and enabling that clinical expertise to go further than is currently possible. 

At the ‘front door’ (or first contact point), we have a product called Limbic Access for self-referrals into psychological therapy services. This UKCA-market triage tool enables professionals to identify individual needs quicker and with greater accuracy for referral and assessment support. 

Limbic Care is the same AI assistant being used to support people waiting for and during treatment. It uses similar chat interface as a mobile app that engages individuals in active recovery during the day-to-day and between sessions. 

Every patient interaction with the mobile app generates insights into thoughts, feelings and behaviours, which are shared with clinicians to enable high-quality therapy sessions. 

Again, the problem is that clinical time is limited – we are seeking to maximise every minute of that time through provision of information for impactful sessions together. Limbic Care is being used as part of NHS talking therapies and initial data reveals up to three times the level of patient engagement with the app.

What would you say are your successes on your scale-up journey?

We’ve had unprecedented speed of adoption in the NHS. We launched in January 2021, during the pandemic, and we’re now active in over 20% of NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) services. In 18 months, we’ve helped over 100,000 real NHS patients. Real people who needed support. We’re immensely proud of that. 

We started with a challenge. People said to us, don’t try and build a technology solution in the UK because the NHS is a challenging market to access. I was born in London and I’m a huge believer in our NHS. We went against the advice others and we’re proud to have proved those people wrong – the NHS can be a great environment for innovation, and it deserves new technologies.

We got our heads down and focussed on the problem that needed solving. We have now built an amazing product and have the evidence to prove its impact. In fact, we are the leading provider of triage in NHS IAPT by some margin, accredited to the highest-level IG and clinical standards, and rated by ORCHA as the highest scoring regulated mental health app. We’re also proud to have won a LaingBuisson Award, a Juniper Research Award, and have been named by NHS England as a High Impact Digital Innovation. 

And we’ve got a phenomenal team – everybody says that, but I truly believe it! Over the last 6 months, we’ve tripled in size but really held on to our cultural values, which has been a challenge, but an exciting one. We have mathematicians, engineers, clinical psychologists, expertise in machine learning – all collaborating to develop best-in-class technologies and holistic support to address key problems. We’ve recruited the best scientists from the best institutions with the values and mindset to deliver a robust product in a short period of time. 

What connections / partnerships are you seeking to make for the next stage of your business growth?

We are looking for new partners. In the last 18 months we have been building a technology solution that we know through evaluation can create value. 

We want to scale up into new services. Every day that passes where our solution is not adopted, we acutely feel as another day that vulnerable people and challenged services do not receive support we know we can provide. 

We also believe we can create a positive impact at system-level by working with Integrated Care Systems – so we’re keen to develop conversations about how we can help at a population level.

And finally, can you tell us about your experience of participating in the P4SY Accelerator Programme?

We’ve found it to be a positive experience. 

We’ve valued the in-depth support and connections for adoption in IAPT services. The passion and drive of the team has resonated with us – we’re on a shared mission to make a difference and support the NHS. 

You can find out more on the Limbic website, viewing demo content here and contacting