The Business of Brain — Startups Focusing on Human Chip-Based Technology

By Thomas Price Friday, November 13, 2020

Technology to help advance the human body has existed in some form for nearly all of human history. However, that has been taken to a completely new level in recent years. With companies like Elon Musk’s Neuralink making major headway into the advancement of brain implants, the entire market for brain-based technology of a similar nature has expanded in response to this. In fact, many other companies and startups have begun pouring time, energy, and money into precisely this type of innovation. The companies involved in developing this technology are all hoping to achieve different goals, many involving solving health issues currently unable to be solved through traditional medicine, with all at different development stages. So, considering the unique nature of the field itself, who are these companies, what do they do, and what can the public expect from them anytime soon?

Salvia BioElectronics

Salvia BioElectronics is a Dutch company working to solve and alleviate migraines before they even happen. They plan to do this by taking existing neurostimulation technology and expanding its scope and safety in the body. Currently, neurostimulation devices, which emit low-level electrical signals from the spine to help block out pain by disrupting pain signals as they leave the brain, are placed near the base of the spine. Salvia BioElectronics wants to create a similar neurostimulation device but have it implanted in the brain by using bioelectronic foils. This version of the device would be able to more accurately target the pain signals unique to chronic migraine and, therefore, be a far more effective treatment than anything currently available for those who suffer from it. This has certainly caught the eyes of many people who see potential as the company recently announced it had raised over $31 million from a series of different investors, including Panakès Partners, INKEF Capital, and SHS Gesellschaft für Beteiligungsmanagement.

BIOS

BIOS was founded in Cambridge by Emil Hewage and Oliver Hermitage back in 2015 with the goal to create high tech brain implants. That goal will be realized as BIOS enters human trials next year for a series of implants meant to help treat diseases such as heart failure, arthritis, diabetes, and Crohn's disease. The common thread between all of these different diseases is that current drug therapies do not effectively solve or address all of their issues. This is partially because many of these diseases stem from misfiring or malfunctioning neural signals from the brain to the failing or diseased organs.

The company had developed their own chip in order to deal with these issues and to take in volumes of data with which they can improve their own software in order to better address their goals. Much of their data, which is currently gathered without invasively placing the chip inside humans, is processed through their unique artificial intelligence (AI) system, which has led to certain breakthroughs. On the investing end, BIOS has raised the equivalent of $8.85 million and expanded its team to 36 different people.

Ceregate

Ceregate operates differently than many of the other companies on this list. Instead of investing in and creating physical implants and devices to install invasively, Ceregate focuses on the software of those devices. The company’s goal is to improve already existing devices to more complexly deal with the issues they are meant to help solve. These efforts are mostly focused on devices meant to address Parkinson’s disease, where Ceregate is developing software to create better solutions to the implants already being used. The major developments up to this point for the company would be the capability to create more personalized software to the user and prevent glitches from occurring. Ceregate plans to expand the scope of its software development as the company grows, which could be sooner rather than later. The company recently concluded their Series A funding round, which, while it was for an undisclosed amount, is a promising sign that the company is moving forward off the ground.

Nyxoah

Nyxoah may be different from the rest of these companies simply because of how well funded it is in comparison. They are also a public company now with a market cap of around $443 million. In the meantime, Nyxoah also raised up to $100 million, well overshooting their initial goal. Nyxoah’s main goal is to utilize this impressive funding in order to help treat sleep apnea by developing a chip implant. This would be accomplished by the chip targeting and firing specific nerve cells under the tongue which can in turn treat sleep apnea. Another major step that Nyxoah has is that their neurostimulation treatments have gone through human clinical trials and were then approved as the company received the European CE Mark, indicating efficacy and safety in their actions. In the meantime, two patients have already been implanted with their device while the FDA gave Nyxoah IDE approval for their DREAM Study.

Final Conclusions

As technology continues to address a variety of medical conditions, different brain chip treatments and software will emerge to improve diseases that stem from the brain. While Neuralink stands as the face of brain implants and invasive chip technology, many other companies are making major headway into the field, receiving funding, and seeing positive results. Each with different focuses, it appears that the implant technology market is set for a huge boom in the coming years as all of these companies come of age.

About the Author


Headshot of Thomas Price

Tom Price is a writer focusing on Entertainment and Sports Features. He has a degree from NYU in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has been previously published for Washington Square News, Dignitas, CBR, and Numbers on the Boards.

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