Fresh from its recent award as one of the 49 most innovative start-ups in the world by the World Economic Forum, Israeli biotechnology firm ElMindA, developers of the world’s first FDA-approved neural functional assessment tool to visualize serious brain trauma and illnesses, announced last week that it had received $28 million in a Series C financing round.
ElMindA had to turn away investors anxious to put their money into what could be the next big Israeli med tech exit, according to investment experts familiar with the firm.
The list of investors who did get into the funding round reads like a who’s who of the global investment world. Among the investors: Chinese global investors Shanda Group, Wexford Capital, which has some $6 billion of assets under management in hedge funds and private equity funds companies, investment bank WR Hambrecht & Co, asset manager Palisade Capital Management, crowdfunding pioneers OurCrowd (among the first to invest in ElMinda), the Kraft Group (owner of the New England Patriots, but also a heavy investor in health-tech), and Swiss investment house Healthcrest AG.
The money will go toward enhancing ElMindA’s proprietary Brain Network Activation system, and preparing the system for commercial and clinical adoption, following BNA’s 2014 FDA clearance in the US and European CE Mark approval for brain function assessment.
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 that 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 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 treatment plans for brain disorders, like ADHD/ADD, that can be more effective.
In August, ElMindA was selected by the WEF as one of the world’s most innovative start-ups, “poised to have a significant impact on business and society.” Past recipients have included companies like Google (2001), Twitter (2010), AirBnB (2014), Dropbox (2011) and Kickstarter (2011). ElMindA’s BNA was also 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 in 2014’s million dollar Global B.R.A.I.N. (Breakthrough Research And Innovation in Neurotechnology) Prize.
Commenting on the investment decision, Robert Kraft, chairman of the Kraft Group, said “as an investor who has followed the advancements of the company for several years, we look forward to supporting ElMindA as it further unlocks the potential of BNA to be the preeminent market leader by offering an objective platform for brain function assessment and management of brain disorders.”
“We are thrilled to have attracted such a strong group of new and existing investors,” said Ronen Gadot, chief executive officer of ElMindA. “This support is a testament to the vast potential of BNA technology to advance our understanding of how the brain works, and to positively impact people’s lives. We plan to bring BNA to the forefront as a significant resource to monitor and manage the health of your brain throughout the course of your life.”