Neuralink, the futuristic brain-computer interface company founded by Elon Musk, said it had raised $205 million in new venture backing, by far the biggest haul of any company in its field.
In a blog post on Thursday, Neuralink said Dubai-based venture company Vy Capital had led the latest funding round. It comes two years after filings showed Neuralink had raised $51 million in a previous round.
The funds will help Neuralink, based in Austin, Texas, to work on its brain implant for quadriplegics, a device that in time could also assist other people with neurological disorders. The technology could help provide patients with “digital freedom” by allowing them to interact with computers and phones “in a high bandwidth and naturalistic way”, according to the announcement.
The next big step for Neuralink will be clinical trials of its device in human beings. So far the device has been shown off in pigs and a Pong-playing monkey.
"It is a bet on cool tech meets Elon," said Robert Nelson, the co-founder of Arch Venture Partners, who took part in the round. "A very hard but very big vision."
Neuralink has yet to announce human trials, although one of its rivals, Synchron, announced early trials for its own brain-computer interface just this week.
Seven months in, 2021 has already become a record year in brain-computer interface funding. A few days ago, Paradromics said it had raised $20m. Excluding that round and the latest Neuralink funding, brain-computer interface companies had raised $132.8m this year. All told, including the latest funding rounds, 2021 has already tripled the $97m raised in all of last year, according to PitchBook data.
Neuralink first registered as a California company in 2016, although Mr Musk did not discuss the company publicly until the following year.