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Friday, 26 March 2021

INBRAIN Neuroelectronics raises over €14M to develop smart graphene-based neural implants for personalised therapies

INBRAIN Neuroelectronics, a spin-off company of the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) and ICREA, announces a €14.35M Series A investment, co-led by Asabys Partners and Alta Life Sciences, and joined by Vsquared Ventures (Germany), TruVenturo (Germany) and CDTI (Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation). INBRAIN has the mission to develop intelligent neuroelectronic therapies based on graphene technology for application in patients with epilepsy, Parkinson’s and other brain related disorders.

INBRAIN Neuroelectronics is a spin-off company of the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2), partner of the Graphene Flagship, and ICREA. It was established in 2019, at the intersection between MedTech, DeepTech and Digital Health, with the mission to decode brain signals into medical solutions for application in patients with epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders. The company designs small implantable brain intelligent systems, with the ability to decode with unprecedented high fidelity brain signals to produce a therapeutic response, adapted to the clinical condition of the specific patient.

In June 2020, INBRAIN received a first seed investment from a syndicate of investors led by Asabys Partners (through Sabadell-Asabys Health Innovation Investment) and Alta Life Sciences, including the Institut Català de Finances (ICF), Finaves (IESE Business School) and BStartUp. Today the company announces a €14.35M Series A investment, one of the biggest rounds in the Spanish medtech industry, co-led by Asabys Partners and Alta Life Sciences, and joined by Vsquared Ventures, a deep tech focused early-stage venture capitalist based in Munich (Germany), TruVenturo GmbH, Germany’s most successful tech and life science company builders, and CDTI (Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation). The financing round also counts with the follow-on investment from ICF Venture Tech II, investment fund from the ICF.

This investment will allow INBRAIN to bring for the first time this technology, built around an innovative nanoscale graphene electrode, to humans and to consolidate the safety of the material as the potential new standard of care in neurotechnologies.

According to a 2010 study commissioned by the European Brain Council, the cost of brain disorders in Europe alone reaches approximately 800 billion euros a year, with more than one-third of the population affected. Between 25% and 35% of patients having a neuronal disease are refractory to pharmacological treatment and are left without an effective therapy. The high incidence of brain-related diseases worldwide and their huge social cost call for greater investments in basic research in this field, with the aim of developing new and more efficient therapeutic and diagnostic tools.

Existing brain interfaces are based on metals (such as platinum and iridium), with significant restrictions on miniaturization and signal resolution, and therefore responsible for considerable side effects. As a consequence, there is a 50% rejection rate in candidate patients. INBRAIN Neuroelectronics’ disruptive technology, based on the novel material graphene, will overcome the current limitations of metal-based neural interfaces. 

INBRAIN Neuroelectronics is bringing a complete technological transformation to the treatment of neurological diseases. Its brain implantable intelligent systems are based on graphene electrodes, which allow miniaturization to nanoscale fabrication, with the potential to reach single-neuron resolution. The extraordinary properties of graphene  ̶ which is light, biocompatible, flexible and extremely conductive ̶  are harnessed in much smaller devices that are safer to implant and can be programmed, upgraded and recharged wirelessly.

Driven by artificial intelligence, the implant can learn from the brain of the specific patient and trigger adaptive responses to deliver a personalised neurological therapy. In addition, the use of Big Data Management will permit remote monitoring of the device and data processing. The technology has already been validated in in-vitro and in-vivo, biocompatibility and toxicity tests have been successful. Studies on large animals have been completed and the investment will be dedicated to bring the technology to human patients, in collaboration with key neurosurgical and neurological groups in Europe.

"The success in supporting innovation is multiple," comments Dr Pablo Pomposiello, Head of the ICN2 Business and Innovation Unit. "Most importantly, the capital raised will allow testing in humans of the novel graphene-based technology that one day might alleviate the suffering from neurological disease. But also, the investment validates the vision that public and private sectors can collaborate and accelerate innovation. Finally, it shows that relative small centers like ICN2 can achieve world-class results by sustaining internal, long term investment in promising projects.

INBRAIN is directed by Carolina Aguilar (Former Medtronic Deep Brain Stimulation European and Global Commercialization Director) and was founded, among others, by ICREA Prof. Jose A. Garrido, leader of the ICN2 Advanced Electronic Materials and Devices Group, Prof. Kostas Kostarelos, leader of the ICN2 Nanomedicine Group and Professor and Chair of Nanomedicine at the National Graphene Institute and the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health of the University of Manchester (UK), and Dr Anton Guimerà, a researcher at the Barcelona Institute of Microelectronics (IMB-CNM-CSIC). The technology development team is formed by neurotechnology experts such as Bert Bakker (CTO) and Michel Decre (Technology Advisor & Board Member) from Philips and other European successful neurotechnology startups.