Ex-Neuralink exec’s brain implant startup Precision Neuroscience nets $41M

The brain-computer interface field is slowly but surely filling out, with startups cropping up to develop implants that allow computers to pick up on and respond to users’ thoughts—and, in some cases, to send back neurostimulation charges in return.

Currently leading the pack are Synchron and Elon Musk’s Neuralink, but a potentially worthy competitor has recently emerged, complete with tens of millions of dollars in financing and a former Neuralink executive at the helm.

Precision Neuroscience, which quietly launched in 2021, announced this week the addition of $41 million to that financing haul, bringing its lifetime total to $53 million. The series B funding was led by Forepont Capital Partners, and the group of half a dozen other investors included Steadview Capital and B Capital Group, which jointly led the $12 million series A in 2021.

With the new funding, Precision will be able to add to its staff, continue developing its implant and kick off clinical trials of the device, the results of which will be used to support future applications for FDA clearance.

“We imagine a world where devastating neurological conditions—stroke, traumatic brain injury, dementia—are finally treatable,” CEO Michael Mager said in Wednesday’s release. “To reach this world, brain-computer interface technology needs to progress out of the lab and into the clinic.”

Precision was co-founded by Mager, a private equity investor, and Benjamin Rapoport, M.D., Ph.D. Rapoport is a neurosurgeon who served as a founding member of Neuralink, where he worked for just over a year between 2017 and 2018.

Precision’s implant, the Layer 7 Cortical Interface, is a Scotch tape-like flexible film that is about one-fifth the thickness of a human hair. It’s placed on the surface of the brain in a minimally invasive procedure—requiring only a 1 millimeter slit for insertion rather than the removal of a chunk of skull—and has been designed to be easily removable.

Each Layer 7 device consists of more than 1,000 electrodes, and multiple implants can be placed on the brain at once to cover more surface area. Once in place, they work in two directions: Not only do the electrodes collect brain signals that are transmitted to a computer and translated into code using machine learning algorithms, but the electrodes can also use that information to emit pulses stimulating certain areas of the brain, with an aim of treating neurological conditions like epilepsy, stroke and more.

Precision said in the funding announcement that it has already validated the system and is ready to progress into human clinical trials this year.

Rapoport isn’t the only Neuralink alum to shift alliances to a different brain-computer interface startup. Last February, Max Hodak, a co-founder of Neuralink and its former president, announced that he had taken an advisory role with and invested in Synchron, the Jeff Bezos- and Bill Gates-backed Australian startup whose own minimally invasive implant recently moved into U.S. clinical trials.

Interestingly, Musk himself has been rumored to be considering an investment in Synchron, too. Last summer, a handful of unnamed sources told Reuters that the Neuralink head had met with Synchron CEO Thomas Oxley, M.D., Ph.D., about a possible deal, though both companies would neither confirm nor deny the speculation.