WoW Woman in VR | Dr. Isabel Van De Keere, Founder and CEO of Immersive Rehab

By Rachael Yeung @RachaelYeung21

Based in London, Isabel Van De Keere is the CEO and Founder of Immersive Rehab, a VR health tech start-up that focuses on the creation and development of interactive rehab environments & games in Virtual Reality that will improve the effectiveness of physical rehabilitation.

With a background in Electro-Mechanical Engineering and a former Biomedical Engineering Scientist, Isabel is passionate about healthcare technologies, digital health, immersive technologies (VR/AR) and its applications in healthcare, using tech for good, social entrepreneurship, and promoting women in tech.

In September 2016, Isabel was one of 12 tech start ups who won a 12 week programme of mentoring and support through the Bethnal Green Ventures accelerator programme and received £15,000 of investment.  

What is your company?

I am the Founder and CEO of the startup "Immersiv­e Rehab Ltd". The aim is to create physical­ rehabili­tation exercise­s in Virtual Reality that improve patient recovery­, to make rehab fun and engaging­, and to have a better outcome of rehab. 

How has your career progressed from studying your biomedical science degree at university?

I have an MSc in Mechanical Engineering, which is a very broad and multidisciplinary area of engineering. This led me into pursuing a scientific career in Biomedical Engineering as a PhD and Postdoctoral researcher, thereby combining my two passions: engineering and healthcare/medicine. My career after leaving academia has always had a strong link with the foundations laid down during my academic studies. Science, Engineering, Innovation and Technology have always played a key part in my career decisions.

How did you come up with the idea of combining physical rehabilitation with VR? 

Following a long physical rehab period I went through myself due to a work accident in 2010, I decided to create Immersive Rehab Ltd. The aim of my company is to create physical­ rehabili­tation exercise­s in Virtual Reality that improves patient recovery­, to make rehab fun and engaging­, and to have a better outcome of rehab.

I am currently alone in the company, but collaborations are being set up with key players to make Immersive Rehab Ltd a success for the patients using the VR rehabilitation platform.

Why is #WomenInTech movement important to you?

The Women in tech movement is important from different angles. Firstly, it brings together women passionate about science and technology, secondly it gives women a stronger network to address issues around equal pay, gender inequality and gender bias, and thirdly it creates a tech community of women helping each other to achieve great things in tech together.

Have you found recruiting women for your team difficult?

I am still in the progress of recruiting people for my team.  The overall hiring issue is not being able to provide a salary yet at the moment.

What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? Have you faced any challenges being a female founder?

The gender bias versus women is still very much present. I was at a conference on VR recently having all male panels claiming that there are too few women working in VR, that while the room contained a substantial group of women in the field.

I see that you have won many awards and honours, what are your biggest achievements to date?

I think my biggest achievement is getting to the point where I am today as a founder and healthtech entrepreneur despite the many hurdles along the way, both from a personal health and professional perspective. I never stopped believing anything is possible.

What will be the key trends in the VR industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?

VR is still changing every day and opportunities seem endless at the moment. I see VR playing a huge role in healthcare via e.g. VR rehabilitation programmes, VR pain management and VR surgical and medical training. VR/AR will also become a key tool in education.Through VR/AR, knowledge will become accessible to a larger group of people previously deprived of it due to their geographical location or background.

Who are your 3 inspirational women in VR?

Shaun Heller, Sherrie Robertson and Samantha Kingston.  

"Stay true to yourself and what drives you in order to make a difference. Be passionate about what you do and engage with more experienced techies and learn from their experiences."



Twitter @ScienceRoadie

Twitter @ImmersiveRehab


Feeling inspired?  Sign up to be profiled as a WoW woman here!