Elon Musk’s Neuralink backed by Google Ventures, Peter Thiel, Sam Altman

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

Yasin Öztürk | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

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

The Series C round, announced in a blog post on Thursday, was led by Dubai-based Vy Capital.

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

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

The company is targeting quadriplegics with its first devices – who cannot interact with many of today’s devices – and is working on human studies.

“The first clue this device is for is to help quadriplegics regain their digital freedom by allowing users to interact with their computers or phones in high bandwidth and naturally,” it says.

So far, the technology has been tested on pigs and a monkey that could play the video game pong with its mind.

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

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

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

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

A university study in October showed that two people thought about controlling a computer with a stentrode (a small array of electrodes mounted on a stent) developed by Australian biotech company Synchron, without having to shave and pierce the skull.

The Stentrode brain-computer interface enabled two people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – a rare neurological disorder – to type, text messages, email, online banking, and make online purchases through thoughts.

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