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Besides Elon Musk’s Neuralink, 10 neurotech startups that want to read your brain

NEUROTECH-STARTUPS

The human brain is a perplexing mystery and advancements in neuroscience are helping us understand this complex organ and everything associated with it. With the advancements in the digital health sector, it has progressed from basic tracking apps into highly regulated medical devices. As a result of this progress, there is a growing share of neuroscience startups that target the brain.

The burgeoning field of neurotechnology involves brain-machine interfaces, neuroprosthetics, neurostimulation, neurorehabilitation and wearable devices that are intended to augment nervous system activity and expand its capabilities. One of the popular companies in the segment is Neuralink, the brainchild of electric car and space pioneer Elon Musk. Also, Facebook (Meta) plans to create its brain-machine interfaces that will let users type using their thoughts.

Besides the stir caused by Musk and Zuckerberg, an Indian, female-founded startup Neuphony founded by Bhavya Madan and Ria Rustagi has moved to Germany. The company works with the intention to create a device, which helps bedridden patients communicate with their families. One of the sectors addressed by neuroscience is neurorehabilitation and Leonardo DiCaprio-backed MindMaze uses gamification to enable the same.

Flow Neuroscience
Image credits: Flow Neuroscience

Flow Neuroscience (Sweden)

Founder/s: Daniel Månsson, Erik Rehn
Founded year: 2016
Total funding: $11.2M

A Swedish healthcare company Flow Neuroscience, develops depression treatment wearable devices. This wearable device combines an easy-to-use brain stimulation headset with a personalised mobile app. The wearable stimulates the patient’s left frontal lobe, the area of the brain with lowered activity in people suffering from depression. Flow Neuroscience’s wearable helps lessen the effects of depression, including exercise and regular sleeping patterns.

In 2021, the developer of a medically approved transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) device, has raised over €7.9 million in Series A funding in an oversubscribed round. The investment round was led by Khosla Ventures, CSS group through Swiss Health Ventures and Zühlke Ventures to support the development of Flow’s depression treatment to be more patient-specific.

Bitbrain
Image credits: Bitbrain

Bitbrain (Spain)

Founder/s: Javier Minguez Zafra, Maria Lopez Valdes
Founded year: 2010
Total funding: $1.9M

Bitbrain is a neurotechnology company that combines neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and hardware to develop advanced EEG equipment and other human monitoring technologies, along with software solutions for real-world applications and research. Founded by a team of researchers at the University of Zaragoza in Spain, Bitbrain is engaged in the research and development of several neurotech products, including brain sensor technologies such as EEG devices.

Backed by Horizon 2020 and other investors, the company works with the mission to develop advanced solutions for real-world research and develop neurotechnology applications that improve people’s lives.

Thync
Image credits: Thync

Thync (US)

Founder/s: Anil Thakur, Isy Goldwasser, Jamie Tyler, Sumon Pal
Founded year: 2010
Total funding: $13M

Backed by Andreessen Horowitz (invested in Everyrealm recently), Khosla Ventures and others, California-based Thync has developed a small, wearable “pod”, which attaches to the back of the neck of the wearer. This wearable device uses neurostimulation to combat stress and promote better sleep. The flagship product, the Thync Relax Pro, uses low levels of electrical stimulation to activate nerve pathways in the head and neck. It communicates with areas of the brain to help control stress levels and sleep quality.

Zeit Medical
Image credits: Zeit Medical

Zeit Medical (US)

Founder/s: Orestis Vardoulis, Urs Naber
Founded year: 2019
Total funding: $2M

Another US-based neuroscience startup, Zeit Medical was founded to create a real change in the way to identify and provide therapy for neurological conditions. Originating from the flagship program of Stanford Biodesign, it provides expert-level brain health monitoring in all settings. Its smart headband fitted with a lightweight electroencephalogram (EEG) constantly monitors the electrical activity of users’ brains and gets help immediately whenever they need it.

In October 2021, Zeit Medical, raised $2 million in a seed round soon after it left Y Combinator’s Summer 2021 cohort. The financing round was led by SeedtoB and Digilife, with participation from Y Combinator, Gaingels, Northsouth Ventures, Tamar Capital, Axial, Citta Capital, as well as angels investors.

Mindmaze
Image credits: Mindmaze

MindMaze (Switzerland)

Founder/s: Tej Tadi
Founded year: 2012
Total funding: $233M

MindMaze, a Swizz startup backed by Leonardo DiCaprio uses gamification to help with neuro-rehabilitation. Its digital neurotherapeutic platform provides digital assessments and therapeutics to treat and rehab patients. It develops medical-grade virtual reality products to stimulate neural recovery. It includes a lightweight wearable head-mounted display and 3D motion capture cameras that offer VR, gesture, and multiple object/user recognition and augmented reality capabilities.

One of its products, MindMotion, offers patients with engaging and motivational virtual reality rehabilitation programs that support their recovery goals. Last year, MindMaze closed $125 million in an investment round led by AlbaCore Capital Group, one of Europe’s leading specialist investors.

Meltin MMI
Image credits: Meltin MMI

Meltin MMI (Japan)

Founder/s: Masahiro Kasuya
Founded year: 2013
Total funding: NA

Japanese neuroscience company Meltin MMI intends to blur the line between humans and machines. It has developed cybernetic augmentation technologies, including a “cyborg” hand called MELTANT-α, which is operated by a handheld control module that mimics a range of tactile motions. Meltin has successfully enabled fine finger movements that was used by amputees and those who participated in Cybathlon 2016.

In 2018, Meltin MMI picked up $17.7 million through a third-party allocation of shares. Allottees including Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, SBI Investment, and The Dai-Ichi Life Insurance Company participated in the round to help in the development of avatar robots and medical devices.

MindPortal
Image credits: MindPortal

MindPortal (UK)

Founder/s: Baber Jack, Ekram Alam
Founded year: 2019
Total funding: $5M

San Francisco-based MindPortal with a subsidiary in London makes wearable devices for brain analysis and assessment. The company’s brain-computer interface enables providers to make clinical decisions. The next-generation personal computing tool acts as a portal for new experiences directly to and from the mind, thereby enabling infinite possibilities.

Last year, MindPortal secured $5 million in a seed round in a round led by Learn Capital alongside other investors and angels. The company will use the funds to hire additional neuroscientists, product engineers, and machine learning experts.

Wearable Devices
Image credits: Wearable Devices

Wearable Devices (Israel)

Founder/s: Asher Dahan, Guy Wagner, Leeor Langer
Founded year: 2014
Total funding: NA

Wearable Devices develops a non-invasive Neural input interface for controlling digital devices using subtle finger movements. It has developed Mudra, a Brain-Computer Interface wristband that uses neural impulses as input to control digital devices. It wants to create a future in which the hand itself becomes the universal input device for interacting with technology.

BrainQ
Image credits: BrainQ

BrainQ (Israel)

Founder/s: Yaron Segal, Yotam Drechsler
Founded year: 2016
Total funding: $50M

Yet another Israeli startup, BrainQ is developing a breakthrough platform for precision neurology therapies to treat the impaired brain using Brain-Computer Interface technology. It is used for precision neurology therapies to treat the impaired brain using a BCI-based approach. BrainQ’s device stimulates the damaged part of the brain and promotes self-repair.

In 2021, BrainQ raised $40 million from Hanaco Ventures, along with Dexcel Pharma, and Peregrine Ventures alongside participation from existing investors. It was announced that the funds will be used to support a pivotal trial for its groundbreaking technology for ischemic stroke survivors in select US hospitals.

Neurosity
Image credits: Neurosity

Neurosity (US)

Founder/s: AJ Keller, Alex Castillo
Founded year: 2018
Total funding: NA

Neurosity’s vision is to create products that allow programmers to reach their full potential. It has developed Crown, a wearable that includes tools to ensure increased users’ productivity. The Neurosity Crown is able to measure electrical impulses given off by the brain. Looking like a pair of sleek headphones for the brain and the technology includes monitoring mental illness and preventing roadside fatigue. Recently, Neurosity has picked up $175K funding to design headwear that teaches programmers to concentrate for long periods of time.

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