Startups measuring the brain that you need to know

Steven Loeb · January 23, 2023 · Short URL:

Companies are using biomarkers to diagnose and treat mental illness and other neurological disorders

Mental illness is considered the silent pandemic that's been overlooked since the start of COVID. The World Health Organization found the global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25% in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But perhaps the rates of depression are also grossly exaggerated: consider that the number of people diagnosed with depression is inflated. Studies as far back as 2013, such as one from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, showed that 60% of people diagnosed with depression didn't meet the clinical criteria for such a condition. 

This has led to increased demand for better diagnostic tools. As it stands right now, the best way to diagnose issues like depression and anxiety is self-reported data from questionnaires like the PHQ-9 and the GAD-7, but what if you could actually measure the brain itself for signs of these diseases through specific biomarkers? And what if you could also alter the brain using those same biomarkers to treat them?

That's what is starting to happen now; companies like Ellipsis Health are studying biomarkers to assess of the severity of anxiety and depression, while others like, Alto Neuroscience, are studying the brain to match the right patient with the right, and others, like Fisher Wallace, are creating wearables that treats the brain electrically to relieve depression, anxiety and insomnia.

Here are some companies pioneering this space for mental health, as well as other neurological conditions and disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and amblyopia:Neumora Therapeutics

Description: "Through our proprietary precision data science platform, we aim to cut through brain disease heterogeneity to match the right patient populations to targeted therapeutics and increase the probability of developing effective medicines. Our platform integrates multiple types of data to create Data Biopsy Signatures and Precision Phenotypes to map disease drivers to the defined patient subtypes"

Founded: 2019

Total funding: $612 million

Last funding round: $112 million in October 2022

Investors: Polaris Partners, ARCH Venture Partners, SoftBank Vision Fund, F-Prime Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments, Invus, Surveyor Capital, Mubadala Capital Ventures, Logos Capital, Catalio Capital Management, Altitude Life Science Ventures, EXOR N.V., re.Mind Capital, Amgen, Newpath Management, Abu Dhabi Growth Fund, Waycross Ventures

Amylyx Pharmaceuticals

Description: "Everything we do at Amylyx is centered around those living with neurodegenerative diseases. We are on a mission to discover and develop treatments for relentless neurodegenerative diseases and to help support and create more moments for the neurodegenerative community"

Founded: 2014

Total funding: $448.5 million

Last funding round$246.3 million in October 2022

Investors: 683 CAPITAL, aMoon Fund, Perceptive Advisors, Morningside Group, Viking Global Investors, Perceptive Advisors, Rock Springs Capital, Alpha Wave Global, Bain Capital Life Sciences, Marshall Wace, Woodline Partners, Tybourne Capital Management, Verition Fund Management, DRADS Capital, ALS Investment Fund, 683 CAPITAL, Lysosomal Therapeutics, The ALS Association, Polaris Founders Capital, ALS Finding a CureNeuralink

Description: "We are creating the future of brain-computer interfaces: building devices now that have the potential to help people with paralysis and inventing new technologies that could expand our abilities, our community, and our world"

Founded: 2016

Total funding: $363 million

Last funding round$205 million in July 2021

Investors: Raison, Valor Equity Partners, GV, Founders Fund, Craft Ventures, Valor Equity Partners, DFJ Growth, Sam Altman, Vy Capital, Fred Ehrsam, Gigafund, Robert Nelsen, Raison,
Elon Musk, Ken Howery, Blake ByersCeribell 

Description: "The world's first brain monitor for point-of-care seizure triage and treatment optimization"

Founded: 2014

Total funding: $220.5 million

Last funding round: $50 million in September 2022

Investors: Ally Bridge Group, Red Tree Venture Capital, RA Capital Management, DHVC, Redmile Group, Longitude Capital, Horizon Technology Finance, The Rise Fund, Shangbay Capital, UCB,  Optimas Capital Partners Fund, LivaNovaHomeNeurelis 

Description: "At Neurelis, we don’t back down from challenges––we’re inspired to innovate meaningful solutions. We see possibilities rather than limitations for people living with neurological conditions. That’s why we are dedicated to developing life-changing treatments that empower people to define their own journey"

Founded: 2007

Total funding: $206.1 million

Last funding round: $114 million in March 2021 

Investors: Philos & Partners, LYZZ Capital, Decheng Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, HBM Healthcare Investments AGSynchron

Description: "Synchron has developed an endovascular brain computer interface that can access every corner of the brain using its natural highways, the blood vessels. Our breakthrough platform launches a new frontier for the treatment of neurological diseases: Neurointerventional Electrophysiology (Neuro EP). Our technology will transform three medical verticals: Neuroprosthetics, Neuromodulation, and Neurodiagnostics"

Founded: 2016

Total funding: $205 million

Last funding round: $75 million in December 2022

Investors: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ARCH Venture Partners, Bezos Expeditions, Reliance Digital Health Limited, Greenoaks, Alumni Ventures, Moore Strategic Ventures, Project X, ID8 Investments, Neurotechnology Investors, Forepont Capital Partners, METIS innovative, Shanda Capital, Khosla Ventures, DARPA, Subversive Capital

Skyhawk Therapeutics

Description: "Skyhawk’s novel approach corrects the underlying genetics of disease at the RNA level. Our drugs can modify expression of target genes previously considered undruggable for a variety of diseases such as cancer, neurogenerative, autoimmune, inflammatory, and infectious diseases"

Founded: 2016

Total funding: $181.2 million

Last funding round: $133 million in September 2021

Investors: Fidelity Management and Research Company, Good Growth Capital,  Alexandria Venture Investments, GreatPoint Ventures, Celgene, Agent Capital, ShangPharma Innovation, 
The Duke of Bedford, Tim DisneyCASMACasma Therapeutics

Description: "Casma Therapeutics is developing novel cellular degradation approaches based on the autophagy pathway to initiate new target areas for drug discovery and development that will profoundly impact the lives of patients"

Founded: 2017

Total funding: $154.9 million

Last funding round$46 million in November 2022

Investors: The Column Group, Eventide Management Partners, Third Rock Ventures, Amgen Ventures, The Column Group, Mirae Asset, Astellas Venture Management, Michael J. Fox Foundation, Eventide, Euclidean Capital, Schroder Adveq, Eisai, Schroders Capital, Ono Venture Investment, Eventide Management PartnersCala Health logoCala Health

Description: "Cala Health is a bioelectronic medicine company transforming the standard of care for chronic disease. The company’s wearable neuromodulation therapies merge innovations in neuroscience and technology to deliver individualized peripheral nerve stimulation, and its vertically integrated commercial model is reshaping the delivery of prescription therapies"

Founded: 2014

Total funding: $148.3 million

Last funding round$77 million in November 2021

Investors: Ascension Ventures, PEAK6 Investments, GV, Lux Capital, StartUp Health, Novartis Venture Fund, Baird Capital, Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, Dolby Family Ventures, Ascension Ventures, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Lightstone Ventures, Triventures, LifeSci Venture Partners, dRx Capital, Action Potential Venture Capital, Innovatus Capital PartnersAlzheon | Preserving Future Memories LogoAlzheon

Description: "Alzheon is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company with a Phase 3 program in Alzheimer’s disease and a discovery platform of small molecules for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. We are developing these disease modifying treatments by leveraging our expertise in inhibiting protein misfolding and aggregation"

Founded: 2013 

Total funding: $138.2 million

Last funding round: $50 million in April 2022

Investors: National Institute on Aging, Ally Bridge Group, Scott H. CohenMicroTransponder 

Description: "MicroTransponder Inc. has developed the Paired Vagus Nerve Stimulation Platform (Paired VNS™ Platform), based on decades of neuroscience research. The Vivistim System, for treatment of post-stroke upper limb mobility issues, is the first FDA-approved system on the platform. MicroTransponder is researching ways to expand the Paired VNS platform to help patients with other chronic neurologic conditions"

Founded: 2007

Total funding: $115.1 million

Last funding round: $53 million in June 2022

Investors: Action Potential Venture Capital, U.S. Venture Partners, Osage University Partners, Green Park & Golf Ventures, The Vertical Group, UT Horizon Fund, Action Potential Venture Capital, GPG Ventures

Cajal Neuroscience

Description: "Cajal Neuroscience is a drug discovery company focused on neurodegenerative disease"

Founded: 2020

Total funding: $96 million

Last funding round: $96 million in November 2022

Investors: Bristol Myers Squibb, Alexandria Venture Investments, Lux Capital, Two Sigma Ventures, The Column Group, Dolby Family Ventures, EvotecBioSerenity

Description: "A mobile technology and digital health platform allowing for the continuous acquisition and transmission of electroencephalographic and patient-related data"

Founded: 2014

Total funding: $94.2 million

Last funding round: Undisclosed amount in February 2022

Investors: Bpifrance, Idinvest Partners, Wilco, Kurma Partners, Innovation Capital, LBO France, Dassault Systemes, ScorCerevance 

Description: "Discovering what’s different about vulnerable cell types that die early in brain diseases"

Founded: 2016

Total funding: $91.5 million

Last funding round: $65 million in July 2020

Investors: GV, SV Health Investors, Casdin Capital, Foresite Capital, Dolby Family Ventures, 
Takeda Ventures, Bill Gates, Lightstone Ventures, Dementia Discovery Fund, Takeda, UPMC EnterprisesAlto Neuroscience

Description: "Precision medicine for the brain is here. We are pioneering an approach to psychiatric drug development which matches the right patient with the right Alto drug based on AI-derived brain biomarkers"

Founded: 2019

Total funding: $75 million

Last funding round$35 million in October 2022

InvestorsValor Equity Partners, Lightswitch Capital, Gaingels, Valor Equity Partners, Stanford University, Presight Capital, Able Partners, Alkeon Capital, Windham Venture Partners, NJF Capital, Bioverge, What If Ventures, Vine Ventures, Tim Kendall, Apeiron Investment Group, Infinitas Capital, Korify Capital, Novartis Pharma, Risk and Return, Sobrato CapitalLinus Health

Description: "Next-generation digital cognitive assessment platform to enable earlier detection and intervention in brain health"

Founded: 2019

Total funding: $64.9 million 

Last funding round$55 million in July 2021 

Investors: Morningside Venture InvestmentsNeurotrack

Description: "Neurotrack develops digital cognitive health solutions that allow people to assess, monitor and strengthen their brain health to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and other dementias"

Founded: 2012

Total funding: $60.4 million

Last funding round: $10 million in November 2022

Investors: Dai-ichi Life, SOMPO Holdings, Sozo Ventures, Rethink Impact, AME Cloud Partners, Marc Benioff, Khosla Ventures, National Institute on Aging, Founders Fund, Georgia Research Alliance, Rock Health, National Institutes of Health, Johnson & Johnson, iSeed Ventures, Social CapitalCognito Therapeutics

Description: "Our investigational medical device delivers non-invasive neuromodulation with the potential to improve outcomes in a range of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease"

Founded: 2016

Total funding: $53.3 million

Last funding round: $50 million in June 2022

Investors: UndisclosedBrainQ

Description: "We are developing a cloud-based platform to map brain network activity using explanatory machine learning algorithms to extract biological insights that translate into precision therapies. The therapies are delivered via an investigational non-invasive portable medical device that creates a frequency-tuned low-intensity electromagnetic field"

Founded: 2016

Total funding: $48.8 million

Last funding round: $40 million in August 2021

Investors: Amir Gross, Qure Ventures, Norma Investment, Dexcel Pharma, Sailing Capital, Millhouse, Hanaco Venture Capital, Peregrine Ventures, IT-Farm, OurCrowdNeuraLight

Description: "We are building an AI-driven platform to accelerate and improve drug development and patient monitoring, as well as introduce precision care for patients with neurological disorders using oculometric data captured with a standard webcam or smartphone"

Founded: 2021

Total funding: $30.5 million

Last funding round: $25 million in May 2022

Investors: Alumni Ventures, Tuesday Capital, Samsung NEXT, Breyer Capital, Operator Partners, MS&AD Ventures, Koch Disruptive Technologies, Kli Capital, Matias Ventures, Vivek Garipalli, Fidji Simo, VSC Ventures, Lily Sarafan, Chris Mansi, Asaf Fybish, Tamara Minick-Scokalo, Noam Solomon, David GolanEllipsis_Health_Logo.jpegEllipsis Health

Description: "Harnessing the human voice as a biomarker for mental health and wellbeing along with machine learning and AI, Ellipsis Health generates a clinical-grade assessment of the severity of anxiety and depression, as well as a sub-clinical assessment of the severity of stress"

Founded: 2017

Total funding: $30 million

Last funding round: $26 million in June 2021

Investors: Alumni Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Greycroft, Gaingels,10X Capital, City Light Capital, SJF Ventures Able Partners, What If Ventures, Time Ventures, SpringTide Ventures, Luminous Ventures Generator Ventures, Richard Socher, Gyan Kapur, Akhil Paul, Ricardo Marino, Joanne Bradford, Gary Loveman, Divesh Makan, Helmy EltoukhyKintsugi

Description: "Kintsugi is the art of repairing fractures in ceramics with gold. What once was broken becomes stronger and more beautiful. We bring this philosophy to strengthening mental wellness infrustructures. So instead of falling through the cracks, more people can embrace their flaws and find beauty in their growth"

Founded: 2019 

Total funding: $29.5 million

Last funding round: $20 million in February 2022

Investors: Primetime Partners, AngelList Talent, National Science Foundation, Techstars, MassChallenge, Insight Partners, Alpha Edison, Acrew Capital, IT-Farm, On Deck, Darling Ventures, Primetime Partners, Side Door Ventures, Eric Yuan, Citta Capital, KidsX, Adam GrosserAltoidaAltoida

Description: "We’re dedicated to improving the lives of patients which is why we’re building the most powerful technology for reliable, accessible, and affordable detection of neurological diseases right from a smartphone device or tablet"

Founded: 2016

Total funding: $27.4 million

Last funding round: $20.3 million in March 2022

Investors: M Ventures, VI Partners, Alpana Ventures, btov Partners, Whitecap Venture Partners, FYRFLY Venture Partners, Hikma Ventures, HonorHealth, Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, Eisai Innovation


Description: "NeuroSigma is a Los Angeles, California-based bioelectronic medical device company developing technologies to transform medical practice and patients' lives. The company is commercializing the Monarch eTNS System, which is the first non-drug treatment for pediatric ADHD cleared by the FDA. Pipeline indications for the Monarch and NeuroSigma's TNS platform include a wide spectrum of neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders, such as ADHD, drug-resistant epilepsy, and depression."

Founded: 2008

Total funding: $18.4 million

Last funding round: $5 million in December 2021

Investors: KT CorpLuminopia

Description: "The first FDA-approved digital therapeutic for amblyopia"

Founded: 2015

Total funding: $17.2 million

Last funding round: $5.7 million in November 2022

Investors: ShangBay Capital, Sony Innovation Fund, The Vertical Group, SSI Strategy, NXT Ventures, Sesame Ventures, MassChallenge, Bantam GroupFlow Neuroscience - HomeFlow Neuroscience

Description: "The Flow headset uses transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). A pain-free and non-invasive technique that activates neural networks through gentle currents to reduce depression."

Founded: 2016

Total funding: $12.6 million

Last funding round: $9 million in August 2021

Investors: Schox Patent Group, Zühlke Ventures AG, SOSV, Khosla Ventures, HAX, Global Brain Corporation, Redstone, Kirin Holdings, Schox Patent Group, SwissHealth Ventures, Daniel AnderssonBlackrock Neurotech

Description: "Blackrock Neurotech provides innovative tools and neurotech expertise to translate technology into novel, implantable clinical solutions that improve human lives. Blackrock’s precision electrode technology is at the core of many worldwide Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) innovations. Our technology has enabled BCI Pioneers to walk, talk, see, hear, and feel again."

Founded: 2008

Total funding: $10 million

Last funding round: $10 million in May 2021

Investors: What If Ventures, Presight Capital, Peter Thiel, re.Mind Capital,, Kliwla Family Office AG,  Sorenson Impact, Tim SieversNeurable

Description: "Neurable’s cutting-edge, easy-to-use devices measure brain activity to generate simple, real-time insights"

Founded: 2015

Total funding: $9.8 million

Last funding round: $6 million in December 2019

Investors: National Science Foundation, FundersClub, PJC, M Ventures, Erik Peterson, NXT Ventures, TRAC, Boston Syndicates, Innospark Ventures, Cold Start Ventures, Loup Ventures, Hartmann Capital, Fady Hannah-Shmouni, Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund, Robert WinterFisher Wallace Laboratories

Description: "Our patented technology treats the brain electrically to relieve depression, anxiety and insomnia. It works by stimulating the brain to release serotonin and other neurotransmitters required for healthy mood and sleep, while also lowering cortisol and modulating the center brain regions responsible for managing the sympathetic nervous system (known as the "fight or flight" response). Most patients report symptom reduction within the first 1-2 weeks of use"

Founded: 2007

Total funding: $8.3 million

Last funding round: $2.5 million in March 2022

Investors: SHUFL Capital, StartEngine, Meyer Global ManagementBrainCo 

Description: "FocusCalm combines an advanced wearable headband with proven neurofeedback techniques to help you feel better in just a few minutes per day"

Founded: 2015

Total funding: $6 million

Last funding round: $5.5 million in December 20216

Investors: Startupbootcamp Digital Health Chengdu, Boston Angel Club, MassChallenge, Hantan Capital, Wandai CapitalLUCID

Description: "At LUCID, we create digital therapeutics using cutting-edge Emotion AI to improve health & wellness using the power of music. We are creating accessible and personalized digital therapeutics for all"

Founded: 2017

Total funding: $2.7 million

Last funding roundCA$3.1 million in August 2022

Investors: NEXT Canada, Next AI, MEDTEQ+, Amplify Capital, Relentless Pursuit Partners, Ontario Centre of Innovation, Reverb Ventures, Leva Capital

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