Neuralink, the biotechnology startup founded by Elon Musk, has successfully raised $280 million in a recent funding round, with prominent participation from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund.
This announcement “was made on Monday through X, a social media platform owned by Musk, formerly known as Twitter.
The news follows the company’s recent approval for its inaugural clinical trial involving human subjects.
The Series D funding drive was spearheaded by Founders Fund, a venture capital firm based in San Francisco that was established by Peter Thiel, a controversial billionaire notable for his involvement in PayPal’s founding.
While the exact valuation of the funding round remains undisclosed, recent private stock transactions in June had pegged the company’s value at approximately $5 billion.
On the Musk-owned social media platform X, the company shared its enthusiasm for the upcoming phase, stating: “We are entering an incredibly exciting new phase at Neuralink.”
Neuralink’s primary objective is to develop brain implants capable of establishing a connection between the human brain and computers.
Musk has devoted five years to this endeavour. To date, the company has conducted preliminary trials on animals. However, these trials have come under scrutiny, particularly following the unfortunate death of a monkey during a project aimed at enabling the animal to play the computer game Pong in 2022.
“Neuralink employed macaque monkeys for its trials, utilizing Bluetooth-enabled implantable chips that are inserted into the animals’ brains. These chips purportedly allow communication with computers through a compact receiver.”
The recent funding announcement closely follows Musk’s revelation that Neuralink was moving forward with plans for human trials.
At a recruiting event in December, Musk disclosed that the company had submitted most of its necessary paperwork to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and anticipated the initiation of human testing within six months.
However, allegations have emerged from employees that Neuralink is hastening its market entry, leading to inadvertent animal fatalities and triggering a federal inquiry, as outlined in a Reuters report from December.
Before Neuralink’s brain implants can be produced on a larger scale and introduced to the general market, regulatory approval is mandatory. The FDA released a document in 2021 outlining its initial perspectives on brain-computer interface devices, acknowledging the swift advancement in this field.
A tweet from Neuralink on Monday announced the company’s active recruitment drive and extended an invitation to individuals interested in participating in engineering endeavours aimed at restoring vision and mobility.