Neuralink, a company founded by Elon Musk that specializes in the development of implantable chips capable of reading brain waves, was able to attract additional venture capital for $43 million.
The relevant information is contained in the filling in the SEC, published last week. The specified company increased the previous tranche, led by the Peter Thiel Founders Fund, from $280 million to $323 million back in early August. According to the filling, thirty-two investors participated.
Neuralink has not disclosed its cost recently. In the summer of this year, the media reported that the company was valued at about $5 billion after private stock trading.
Neuralink was founded in 2016. The company’s specialists have developed a device that looks like a sewing machine and can implant ultrathin threads inside the brain. These threads are attached to a special chip containing electrodes that read information from groups of neurons.
Implants that can recognize brain signals are a decade-old technology. The innovation of the Neuralink solution lies in the fact that in this case, the mentioned products are wireless. Specialists also increased the number of implanted electrodes.
In May, Neuralink received FDA approval to conduct human clinical trials. The company’s first application of the relevant content was rejected.
Neuralink is currently in the zone of increased attention. Critics of the firm’s activities accuse it of what they call a toxic workplace culture and involvement in unethical research practices.
Last year, Fortune published an article quoting former Neuralink employees who spoke on the rights of anonymity about a culture of guilt and fear. According to them, the actions of Elon Musk were often aimed at reducing the authority of the leadership. They say that the billionaire encouraged junior employees to send questions and complaints by email directly to him.
In August 2020, only three of the eight founding scientists of the firm remained at Neuralink. This state of affairs, according to people who are aware of the processes taking place inside the company, is the result of an internal conflict against the background of what has been characterized as a slow and gradual development of science.
Last year, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) said that Neuralink and the UC Davis, a former research partner at the firm, were involved in the practice of cruelty to monkeys who participated in testing the company’s equipment. This charge contains information that because of the operations, the animals were subjected to stress and chronic infections. There is also information that the testing process was carried out in a hurry due to Elon Musk’s demands for a quick result. Because of the high intensity of work, the installation of electrodes has led to such health problems in animals as brain swelling and partial paralysis.
For almost a year, Neuralink was under federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The company was charged with animal rights violations. However, following the results of the investigations, a statement was made that no evidence was recorded of the firm’s involvement in the mentioned practice.
In November of this year, US lawmakers asked the SEC to investigate Neuralink since it omitted details about the death of more than ten animals that had implants surgically installed.
As we have reported earlier, Venture Investor 500 Global Raises $143 Million.