The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.
Scientists have spent decades trying to build machines that talk to the brain. Robust and reliable neural interfaces have long been a holy grail in the field of neuroscience. The hope is that a new wave of research programs, including the BRAIN Initiative and Human Connectome, among others, could lead to groundbreaking technologies for helping people with brain-related diseases. If effective, these new therapies could even, some argue, bring about the end of disability.
Some believe that developing such interfaces will require advanced brain implants that are still a decade or more away. More recently, though, neuroscientists—as well as a legion of “brain hackers”—have turned to powerful new sensing, processing, and prototyping tools to explore a host of non-invasive techniques to stimulate the brain. Some of these methods, proponents say, could benefit not only patients who suffer from disease or injury, but also healthy individuals, who would be able to learn faster, acquire better math skills, improve their memory capabilities, and even boost their creativity.
So, is this all still science fiction or are consumer brain products nearing commercialization? Should entrepreneurs and brain researchers consider starting companies right now? I believe the answer is yes—now is the time for you to start a brain tech startup. Belgian company STX-Med has recently received FDA approval to market its Cefaly headband device to people suffering from migraines. At my firm, Lux Capital, we have invested in Halo Neuroscience, which is building a non-invasive brain-stimulating device capable of enhancing cognitive performance.
Lux and other VC firms are on the prowl to back more entrepreneurs aiming to build promising companies around our brains. We believe this is just the beginning of what will become a huge industry. To see why, consider these four trends contributing to make neuroscience a fertile ground for exciting new startups.