Health

Elon Musk's brain computer start-up raises $205 million from Google Ventures and others


Elon Musk, Founder and Chief Engineer of SpaceX, speaks during the Satellite 2020 Conference in Washington, DC, United States on March 9, 2020.

Yasin Ozturk | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Elon Musk’s brain-machine interface company, Neuralink, has raised $205 million from investors including Google Ventures, Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. 

The series C round, announced in a blogpost Thursday, was led by Dubai-based Vy Capital.

It comes two years after Neuralink raised $51 million. Total investment in the company now stands at $363 million, according to start-up tracker Crunchbase.

Founded in 2016, Neuralink is trying to develop high-bandwidth brain implants that can communicate with phones and computers.

The company is targeting its first devices at quadriplegics — who are unable to interact with many of today’s devices — and it is working toward human trials.

“The first indication this device is intended for is to help quadriplegics regain their digital freedom by allowing users to interact with their computers or phones in a high bandwidth and naturalistic way,” it wrote.

So far, the technology has been trialed on pigs and a monkey that was able to play the video game Pong with its mind.

The company said its first product, known as the N1 Link, will be “completely invisible” once implanted and transmit data via a wireless connection.

“The funds from the round will be used to take Neuralink’s first product to market and accelerate the research and development of future products,” Neuralink said.

Several other companies are also developing brain-computer interfaces including Blackrock Neurotech, which has been backed by Thiel and his friend Christian Angermayer.

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Elsewhere, scientists at the University of Melbourne have already had some success with brain-computer interfaces.

A study out of the university in October showed two humans controlling a computer through thought using a stentrode (a small stent-mounted electrode array) developed by Australian biotech firm Synchron without having to shave the skull and drill through it.

The stentrode brain-computer interface allowed two people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — a rare neurological disease — to type, text, email, do online banking and shop online through thought.



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