Neuralink has raised $205 million in a C series funding round led by Dubai-based venture capital firm Vy Capital, with participation from Alphabet Inc’s Google Ventures.
Co-founded by Elon Musk, the San Francisco-based neurotechnology company was launched in 2016 and was first publicly reported in March 2017. Neuralink develops implantable brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) and aims to implant wireless brain-computer chips to help cure neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s, dementia, and spinal cord injuries. It also aims to achieve a fusion of humankind with artificial intelligence.
So far, the company has only carried out its experiments using animals. In April, the company released a video that showed a monkey playing videogame “Mind Pong”, after getting chips implanted on each side of its brain. The next big step for Neuralink will be clinical trials of its device in human beings.
Neuralink said it will use the funds for further research and development. The funds will help the company to work on its brain implant for quadriplegics, a device that in time could also assist other people with neurological disorders. The technology, when fully developed, could also allow humans to interact with computers and phones ‘in a high bandwidth and naturalistic way’.
Elon Musk’s tweet in June affirms this claim- he tweeted that Neuralink’s products “will enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using thumbs, the device is implanted flush with skull & charges wirelessly, so you look & feel totally normal.”
“It is a bet on cool tech meets Elon, a very hard but very big vision,” Robert Nelson, the co-founder of Arch Venture Partners, who also took part in the round, remarked.
Neuralink is yet to announce human trials, although one of its rivals, Synchron, announced early trials for its brain-computer interface this week.
Brain-computer interface companies have set a new record in fundraising this year, tripling the $97 million that was raised in all of last year. A few days ago, Paradromics revealed that it raised $20 million. Excluding the round and the latest Neuralink funding, brain-computer interface companies had raised $132.8m this year.
No doubt, American entrepreneur Elon Musk is not just about producing electric cars or making plans to make Mars habitable- his brain chip company, Neuralink continues to attract serious investors’ attention.