OurCrowd invests in Israeli ‘helmet’ to diagnose Parkinson’s

Crowdfunder hails technology as a breakthrough; able to detect early signs of neurological diseases, sports injuries

Former president Shimon Peres checks out ElMindA's technology at the 2013 Presidential Conference in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Courtesy ElMindA)
Former president Shimon Peres checks out ElMindA's technology at the 2013 Presidential Conference in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Courtesy ElMindA)

To celebrate Israel’s 67th birthday, Israeli crowdfunding platform OurCrowd announced its 67th investment in ElMindA, which has developed the world’s first FDA-approved neural functional assessment tool to visualize serious brain trauma and illnesses.

The technology, according to OurCrowd, is potentially a huge breakthrough for mitigating sports injuries, advancing brain research and changing the lives of the two billion people worldwide living with brain disorders.

With the ElMindA investment, OurCrowd closes out about two years of activity, so far investing over $110 million from its “crowd” of thousands of accredited investors in its portfolio companies, which span major investment sectors — including the Internet of Things, fintech, cybersecurity, medical technology, agricultural technology, big data and robotics.

As an equity crowdfunding platform, OurCrowd identifies companies seeking early-stage investment, and brings these opportunities to its membership, who get to choose the deals they participate in via OurCrowd managed partnerships, said CEO Jon Medved. OurCrowd co-invests in all of these deals and manages the ongoing investments in the companies, including board participation.

Individual investors can get in on the action for as little as $10,000, giving them the opportunities to make angel-style investments in promising start-ups, which usually would require tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars.

Crowdfunding was made possible after the US Securities and Exchange Commission implemented changes that lifted a long-standing ban on “general solicitation” (i.e., advertising) of certain securities and investment vehicles. Private companies and entrepreneurs seeking to raise capital from US investors can now market their company’s investment opportunity publicly to “accredited investors” (individuals with over $1 million in liquid net worth or incomes over $200,000/year) via social media, print materials, email and other means, and that is the crowd that OurCrowd works with.

“Membership in OurCrowd is limited to only those meeting stringent accreditation requirements. Further, deals being funded are kept confidential and are not disclosed to the general public until complete,” explained Medved, adding that OurCrowd was fully compliant with government regulations on investment recruitment.

While it seeks out investments in a wide variety of areas, OurCrowd has a soft spot for tech that can make a big difference in people’s lives, such as ElMindA, which was one of the Israeli technologies that US President Barack Obama was shown when he asked about Israeli tech achievements on his visit to Israel in March 2013. ElMindaA was a finalist in last year’s million-dollar Global B.R.A.I.N. (Breakthrough Research And Innovation in Neurotechnology) Prize.

While most brain-monitoring systems require the invasive insertion of a sensor inside the head, ElMindA’s BNA (Brain Network Activation) takes its measurements using a sensor-laden futuristic looking “helmet,” which 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 and 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 in 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 — such as 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.

“Greater understanding of how our brain processes information, how it gets its job done, ultimately holds the potential to improve brain health and disease management over a person’s lifetime,” said Ronen Gadot, CEO of ElMindA.

For Medved, ElMindA is another great example of Israeli technology’s global impact. “Israeli entrepreneurs are unrivaled in their ability to create spectacular start-ups. We are proud to now be driving the transformation of Start-up Nation into Scale-up Nation.”

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