Stanford spinout scoops $10M to advance real-time brain mapping platform

A Stanford University spinout that lists Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), Novartis ($NVS) and Pfizer ($PFE) among its users has raised $10 million to further develop its real-time brain mapping platform. The company, Inscopix, will use the money to advance the hardware and software behind its platform, while simultaneously scaling up its operation to support the commercialization of the system.

Inscopix opened its doors in 2011 to refine and commercialize prototypes developed at Stanford. The resulting platform combines a miniature microscope designed to image calcium ion activity in the brains of freely moving animals with a data analysis package. In 2012, Inscopix made the platform available through an early-access program, leading to its use at a clutch of Big Pharma companies and renowned academic research centers.

Palo Alto, CA-based Inscopix has persuaded some leading lights of the West Coast tech scene of the potential of its approach, giving it the financial means to embark on the next stage of its evolution. Playground Ventures, a hardware startup incubator and investment fund set up by the creator of Google’s Android, led the round with support from AME Cloud Ventures and Floodgate Fund. The investors are hoping Inscopix will establish itself as a key enabler of neuroscience research.

“Inscopix has built an incredible product ecosystem to-date, but we believe an even bigger opportunity exists to further develop core hardware and software infrastructure that drives forward the future for brain research,” Playground Venture Partner Mark Valdez said in a statement.

AME has a big-name founder of its own, Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang, and a small portfolio of life science companies on its books. Inscopix joins cancer testing outfit Color and robot-run lab player Transcriptic in the life science corner of AME’s portfolio. Floodgate is less active in life sciences, but has backed a clutch of healthcare startups. And it has invested in some notable tech companies, including Lyft, Twitch and Twitter.