Israeli biotechnology firm ElMindA – developers of the world’s first FDA-approved neural functional assessment tool to visualize serious brain trauma and illnesses – has been named one of the 49 most innovative start-ups in the world by the World Economic Forum. The annual award is granted to companies “poised to have a significant impact on business and society,” and past recipients have included companies like Google (2001), Twitter (2010), AirBnB (2014), Dropbox (2011) and Kickstarter (2011).
Notable members of the committee choosing the companies include Arianna Huffington (founder, Huffington Post) and Henry Blodget (editor-in-chief, Business Insider). As a result, the WEF said, ElMindA and the other selected firms “will have access to the most influential and sought-after business and political network in the world, and be invited to the World Economic Forum’s ‘Summer Davos’ in Dalian, China, this September, or the Annual Meeting in Davos in January.”
While most brain monitoring systems require the invasive insertion of a sensor inside the head, ElMindA’s BNA takes its measurements using a sensor-laden futuristic looking “helmet” that contains dozens of electrodes to measure activity through the skull. The sensors are able to measure the electronic activity of the brain at different points, with each sensor recording the activity associated with a specific brain function – thought, memory, activity, etc.
The data is analyzed by specially developed algorithms based on patented signal processing and pattern recognition techniques that can connect between signals, revealing three-dimensional images of Brain Network Activation patterns (BNAs) which represent high resolution functional neural pathways. The data can aid doctors in the profiling of brain function and changes in functionality, and can assist follow-up of changes in disease progression and/or response to therapeutic interventions.
The system can thus detect the early stages of degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and assist physicians in coming up with more effective treatment plans for brain disorders, like ADHD/ADD.
ElMindA has established a growing database of brain activity from both healthy subjects and patients with brain-related disorders. The database currently includes more than 7,000 of the BNA 3D datasets, covering almost every known brain disorder. The system is already being used in dozens of institutions, and ElMindA has collaborated with major medical institutions and universities on a number of important studies.
A recent study performed by ElMindA and scientists from the University of Toronto, Canada and from the Ben-Gurion University, for example, showed how Scopolamine, a muscarinic receptor antagonist compound, was used to induce a reversible cognitive decline in volunteers who had Alzheimer-like symptoms.
The WEF’s judges aren’t the only ones who think highly of ElMindA’s technology; the helmet was one of the technologies that US President Barack Obama was shown when he asked about Israeli technological achievements on his visit to Israel in March 2013, and was a finalist for 2014’s million dollar Global B.R.A.I.N. (Breakthrough Research And Innovation in Neurotechnology) Prize.
Ronen Gadot, CEO of ElMindA, said that the company “is honored to be recognized as a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer, among such an impressive class of innovators. Brain science is in many ways the final frontier in healthcare, and ElMindA is at the forefront of this area of innovation with Brain Network Activation (BNA). BNA is already being used by physicians to monitor recovery from a head injuries and evaluate a variety of brain disorders and therapeutic efficacy. BNA is also already being used by pharmaceutical companies with drug development. In early clinical development, BNA mapping can help understand whether a novel molecule is affecting the brain in the expected ways. In later stages, BNA can help answer questions such as what is the right dosage to optimize treatment.”
Along with ElMindA, the World Economic Forum chose Consumer Physics as a company whose tech will change the world. The firm
has developed the world’s first device that can scan products and provide a list of ingredients, components, materials, and other important information about food, pharmaceuticals, plants, and much more.
The device uses near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy to scan physical materials for their molecular fingerprint, discovering the specific components of a piece of fruit, a hamburger, a pill, and, eventually, anything else, depending on what apps are developed on the platform. Once the molecular components are detected, the data is uploaded to a user’s smartphone, from where it is transmitted to the SCIO database. The database then provides information about the materials, and the product – vitamins, calories, product recalls, active ingredients in over-the-counter pills, and more.
Besides joining the WEF list, both SCIO and ElMindA have something else in common: They are both part of the investment portfolio of crowdfunding firm OurCrowd, the Israeli investment firm that popularized the funding model that enables small investors to get in on the start-up action, making investments in high-tech firms as part of a venture capital fund that is open not only to millionaire investors, but also to smaller investors.
“We are so proud of ElMindA and Consumer Physics for being named to the 2015 WEF Tech Pioneers List,” said OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved. “This list represents the best of the best in promising global technology companies, proving that equity crowdfunding will provide investor access to unprecedented opportunities.”