29 Neurotech Companies Interfacing With Your Brain
A recent news topic that raised some eyebrows was the revelation that the human brain can literally reprogram itself. The brain is such a complex piece of hardware that there’s practically no way we’ll ever understand it without using a greater intelligence. This is one of the reasons why the emergence of artificial intelligence is so disruptive. Startups like Kernel are actually using AI to “read/write” long term memories directly from the brain. Amazing technological advances like these should adorn the front page of every news paper out there. Instead, we opt for mind-numbing “facts” like this:
As a nod to World Mental Health Day today, what we’d like to do is put together an exhaustive list of every single neurotech related company out there. To get this started, let’s turn towards an article published on the Crunchbase blog which lists 23 different neurotech companies (it’s actually 22 because one was an impostor). To that list, we then added 7 names from our own research. What we end up with is a list of 29 different neurotech companies (the companies we’ve already covered are linked to the relevant articles on this site below):
|Biodirection||2010||$11.6M||Brain Injury Monitor|
|BrainCheck||2015||$4.49M||Brain Health App|
|Kernel||2016||$100M||BCI (Data Storage)|
|Mindstrong Health||2014||$14M||Digital Phenotyping|
|Neurable||2015||$2M||Brain Input Devices|
|Neuros Medical||2008||$38.8M||Pain Management|
|Paradromics||2015||$20.5M||BCI (Data Storage)|
|RightEye, LLC||2012||$10.4M||Concussion Test|
|Sense Diagnostics, LLC||2014||$1.3M||Brain Injury Monitor|
|SPR Therapeutics||2010||$44M||Pain Management|
|Synchron, Inc.||2016||$10M||BCI (Stents)|
We decided to omit any publicly traded companies in this list like Medtronic or Abbott because it goes without say that they’re doing all kinds of things in this space. This leaves us with 14 neurotech companies that we’ve never written about before so let’s take a brief look at each of them.
Diagnosing Brain Diseases with Software
5.4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and our next startup claims to diagnose the disease 5 years prior to onset with 94% accuracy using smartphones and augmented reality. This Swiss startup has taken in an undisclosed amount of funding to develop their app which is based on 12 years of R&D and clinical trials with more than 2,500 patients. That’s all we know.
Founded in 2015, this Texas startup has taken in $4.5 million in funding to develop a suite of cognitive tests that you can take on your smartphone that will help uncover problems like concussions or memory loss. The tests come in the form of simple games you can play based on 20 years of research. Scores can be compared to your own baseline or to the population average:
The app is offered under a “freemium” business model and you can download it here.
Founded in 2014, Silicon Valley startup Mindstrong Health has taken in $14 million in funding so far to develop artificial intelligence algorithms that evaluate your smartphone usage for mental health problems. Here are some examples of what variables they look at:
This is kind of common sense. If you frequent celebrity gossip sites, you have a higher likelihood of feeling like crap about yourself as result of reading about how great everyone else claims to be. Read Nanalyze instead.
Founded in 2015, Boston startup BrainSpec has taken in $100,000 in funding to develop a cloud-based platform that makes MRS technology accessible. MRS stands for Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and it measures the concentration of chemicals in the brain providing a “virtual biopsy” of sorts. You can perform this test using a standard MRI scanner and it adds just 5 to 15 minutes of scan time to a routine MRI exam:
The MRS can diagnose all kinds of problems like Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, or traumatic brain injuries.
Brain Injury Diagnosis with Medical Devices
Founded in 2010, Arizona medical device startup BioDirection has taken in $11.6 million in funding to develop the “world’s first nanowire biosensing platform for concussions and other Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)”. With a single drop of blood, the system uses a panel of protein biomarkers to provide results in under 90 seconds:
They propose that other neurological conditions could also be diagnosed in the same manner, like strokes or Alzheimer’s disease. The device is not FDA approved yet.
Founded in 2014, Ohio startup Sense Diagnostics has taken in $1.3 million in funding to develop a medical device that monitors the users’ brain activity when said user is unfortunate enough to be in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a hospital. The device is non-invasive and disposable, and continuously monitors brain activity as opposed to a baseline CT scan followed by repeat scans every 24 hours as current practice dictates. The Sense device transmits a low power electro-magnetic pulse across the patient’s brain and changes in the signal can detect problems as they occur.
A Headset to Help You Lose Weight
Overweight people may think they’re beautiful but they’re costing us a lot of money with obesity-related illness expected to hit $1.2 trillion by 2025. That’s where Modius can help with their wearable device that stimulates the vestibular nerve and is said to reduce appetite. This San Diego company raised $1.2 million in crowdfunding to develop their Modius Headset device which retails for around $499.
Neuromodulation for the Masses
Founded in 2003, Pennsylvania startup Neuronetics has taken in $176.3 million in funding to develop a medical device for non-invasive therapies that address psychiatric and neurological disorders by using magnetic stimulation (also called neuromodulation) . In 2008, they were first to market with an FDA cleared depression treatment and since then they’ve treated more than 1 million people nationwide. With backing from investors like General Electric and Pfizer, their last round was a Series G in June of this year implying that an exit is due any time now.
Founded in 2005, New Jersey startup ElectroCore has taken in $88 million in funding from investors that include Merck to develop neuromodulation therapies that target all sorts of things. Their focus at the moment is on migraines (the third most common disease in the world) and their gammaCore device was approved for use in the U.S. this past April:
Other applications to follow include the treatment of epilepsy, depression, and anxiety.
Founded in 2011, Canadian startup NeuroQore has taken in an undisclosed amount of funding to develop a neuromodulation treatment for depression. Their first unit was installed at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Center in 2015 and preliminary clinical tests have been positive leading to the installation of more units. 1 in 3 people suffering from depression do not respond to medication or therapy and NeuroQore claims to offer a viable alternative to the dreaded electroconvulsive therapy.
Reading the Brain in Real-time
With DARPA as an investor, San Jose startup Paradromics has taken in $20.5 million in funding to develop brain-machine interfaces that sound very similar to the work being done by Kernel. According to an article by Tech Crunch, Paradromics is developing “high resolution neural implants that can record signals from as many as one million neurons at once“. The initial goal is to try and determine how the brain processes spoken language so that you can give directions using only your mind. The target date for when they will have something to show the class is Q1 of 2018.
Peripheral Nerve Pain Management
Founded in 2008, Ohio startup Neuros Medical has taken in $38 million in funding from investors that include medical device company Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) to develop a device that addresses chronic pain. The “Neuros Altius System” includes a pacemaker-size implantable generator that delivers high-frequency stimulation to sensory nerves to block pain signals from going to the brain:
The system includes an electrode that is placed around the peripheral nerve which can be seen above attached to the pacemaker device. One obvious use case here would be for amputees.
Founded in 2010, another Ohio startup called SPR Therapeutics is also targeting pain management with a Peripheral Nerve Stimulation (PNS) platform that’s raised $44 million in funding, $25 million of which they just closed last month in the form of a Series C. Unlike the device from Neuros, this is actually worn outside the body as seen in the below diagram:
The similarities between these two companies seem like too big of a coincidence. Often in cases like these you can go back in time and see where two founders split up and went in different directions to end up developing similar offerings which could be the case here but we couldn’t find the connection.
Eye Tracking for Diagnosing
This last one could arguably be outside our neurotech label but we’re including it anyways because it landed on the Crunchbase list. Founded in 2012, Maryland startup Righteye has taken in a total of $10.4 million to develop an eye-tracking platform based on 40 years of research. Obviously, this technology can detect concussions and traumatic brain injuries along with a whole slew of other health care and vision problems. There are a whole slew Customers include the U.S. Military, Major League Baseball, and more than 50 doctors who use the technology in their practices.
That wraps up our summary of the 14 neurotech companies we hadn’t covered yet here on Nanalyze. We’d like to keep this list up-to-date as time goes on, so if your really cool neurotech startup just got funded, drop us a line in the comments section below.
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