Based: Foxborough, MA
Why It's Fierce: Talk about cutting-edge technology. Scientists at Brown University helped develop early-stage bionics in the form of implantable electronic devices. Now Cyberkinetics is taking the technology several steps further. It's been green-lighted for a clinical trial to implant its BrainGate technology into five severely disabled patients to determine if they can use the technology to send simple computer commands through channeled thought. It may sound like Fantastic Voyage, but the hardheaded scientists behind this venture garnered $9.3 million in first round funding led by Oxford Bioscience Partners. A 2002 merger with Bionic Technologies added to a tech team armed with intellectual property rights gained from Brown, MIT, and others. They say they're three to five years away from putting a product on the market, and there are a lot of disabled people in the world cheering them on. Highly speculative, but fascinating.