On a race to connect the human brain directly to machines, according to four people familiar with the matter. A few weeks ago, Musk reached out to Synchron founder and chief executive Thomas Oxley to discuss a potential deal. But it is unclear whether any transaction would involve a merger or collaboration between Synchron and Neuralink.
Synchron, which is based in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, is in the process of getting regulatory approval for its devices ahead of Neuralink, it has not been decided whether they will accept the investment or not and no deal is certain. The representatives for Musk and Neuralink did not respond to requests for comment. A Synchron spokesman declined to comment. The approach comes after Musk, who is also CEO of electric car maker Tesla Inc and rocket developer SpaceX, expressed frustration to Neuralink staff over their slow progress, four current and former employees said. That frustration was not transferred to Oxley when Musk reached out to him, the two sources added. It is unclear where Neuralink stands in its application with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin human trials. The spokesman of the FDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Musk said in a public presentation in 2019 that Neuralink, which he launched in 2016, aims to get regulatory approval by the end of 2020. At Wall Street Journal conference in late 2021, he said that he hoped to begin human trials this year. Founded in 2016, Synchron has developed a brain implant that, unlike Neuralink, would not require cutting into the skull to install it. Its goal is to help paralyzed patients control digital devices with just their minds. Synchron reached a major achievement last month by implanting its device in a patient in the US for the first time. In 2021, it received FDA approval for human trials and completed studies on four people in Australia.
According to market research, Pitchbook Synchron has about 60 employees and has raised about $65 million from investors so far, and Neuralink is larger, with 300 employees split between San Francisco and Austin, Texas. According to Pitchbook, It has also raised $363 million from investors so far, Only two of Neuralink’s eight founders remain at the company Musk and implant engineer Dongjin “DJ” Seo, who has a leadership role. Max Hodak, who resigned as president of Neuralink last year, is now an investor in Synchron.
Musk has approached Neuralink competitors in the past. In 2020, According to three people familiar with the matter. he was in discussions with brain technology company Paradromics Inc., but Musk subsequently walked away from those talks.