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University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships
University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships

Neurable approaches launch with noninvasive brain-computer interface


Fresh off a second-place finish at the Rice Business Plan Competition and a $280,000 prize from Owl Investment Group, University of Michigan startup Neurable is fast approaching launch. The company, formed recently to commercialize a noninvasive brain-computer interface that was developed at U-M’s Direct Brain Interface Lab, is currently in the process of raising venture capital financing to bring its patent pending technology to market. The technology, demonstrated at U-M Innovation Partnerships’s 2015 Celebrate Invention event [see image above], allows individuals to control software and physical object, like wheelchairs and robots, in real-time, with little or no training.

According to the company’s founders, the Neurable system, which consists of a wearable headpiece outfitted with sensors that communicates brain activity to a computer running artificial intelligence software, will eventually allow those without the ability to communicate, like individuals with severe cerebral palsy, to make their thoughts known and operate devices like wheelchairs. In the short term, however, the company plans to pursue opportunities in the gaming industry.

In a recent interview with Crain’s Detroit Business, Neaurable CEO Ramses Alcaide, who helped develop the underlying technology while a PhD student at U-M along with professors Jane Huggins and Seth Warschausky, indicated that meetings with potential investors were “overwhelmingly positive” and that the six-person Neurable team was “in deep discussions” with manufacturers interested in incorporating Neurable’s technology into virtual reality and gaming devices. Asked about the potential of Neurable, Adrian Fortino, the manager of the Ann Arbor office of the Houston-based Mercury Fund, told Crain’s Detroit Business, “This is one of the most interesting early-stage companies I’ve seen in some time.”

Michael Psarouthakis, assistant director of U-M Innovation Partnerships’s Venture Center, noted that a number of U-M Innovation Partnerships Mentors-in-Residence, including Braden Robison, Mike Klein, Michael Johnson, and Ryan Waddington, helped shape the business model and provide guidance for Neurable. “We’ve been working with the Neurable team for the past year,” said Psarouthakis, “and, during that time, a number of people were involved, from Jessica Soulliere in our licensing group, and everyone who worked on the intellectual property, to those of us working on the Venture Center side of things. This was really a team effort, and we’re excited and optimistic that Neurable will raise the $1 million they need to hit their next development target, and ultimately bring this technology to market.”

[More on the history of Neurable can be found on the Xconomy website.]