Elemind raises $12M for neurotech wearable that can help your brain and let you sleep better


Elemind, a neurotechnology startup founded by leading neuroscientists, medical doctors, and entrepreneurs, has raised $12 million in funding.

Emerging from stealth today, the company said it is developing an innovative AI-enhanced neurotech wearable that can do things like improve your sleep or calm your mind via brainwave stimulation.

Elemind aims to address health issues through noninvasive, proactive brainwave stimulation, marking a significant departure from traditional pharmaceutical approaches. The team and its research partners have published multiple studies proving the efficacy of the science and technology in peer-reviewed journals including Nature Communications.

Meredith Perry, CEO of Elemind, said in an interview with VentureBeat that the neurotech wearable is something that you wrap around your head, but it’s not showing a picture of it yet. As a non-invasive sensor, it reads your brainwaves through your skin. Then they modulate electrical signals to the brain through non-invasive stimulation. It doesn’t require surgery.

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Beyond giving you better sleep, they discovered there are a variety of benefits that the treatment can deliver. The first task they took on was suppressing tremors for people with essential tremor. That led to the genesis of the algorithm which allows them to manipulate brainwaves or change the brain by brainwave manipulation from the outset, Perry said.

“From that, we’ve now shown that we can suppress tremors for people with essential tremor and potentially Parkinson’s disease, but we have not done any trials on people with Parkinson’s,” Perry said.

Perry added, “We’ve also shown that we can induce sleep, in both healthy sleepers and people with insomnia. But it works better for people with insomnia. We’ve also shown that we can increase pain thresholds and enhance the effects of sedation.”

Origins

Elemind cofounders.

The team behind Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Elemind comprises scientists and doctors associated with prestigious research institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Imperial College London, Harvard Medical School, and the University of California at Berkeley.

The founders include Ed Boyden, a neurotechnology professor at MIT and pioneer in the field of optogenetics; David Wang, who has a doctorate in AI from MIT and is CTO of Elemind; Ryan Neely, a doctor of neuroscience from the University of California Berkeley; Nir Grossman, an assistant neuroscience professor at Imperial College London; and Heather Read, a professor of behavioral neuroscience & biomedical engineering at the University of Connecticut.

Wang said in an interview with VentureBeat that the founders came together after teaching classes together and realizing there was a fundamental problem to tackle. If they could predict what a biological wave such as a brainwave was about to do, it would give them the ability to intercede with a lot more precision, and potentially alter it.

They got advice Boyden at MIT and brought in Reed, who looked into how sound impacts the brain. Perry was also independently looking at non-invasive neuromodulation and how it can enhance brainwaves.

“It was just a fantastic team were able to bring together,” Wang said.

The company has 13 people. Elemind plans to announce the product in the coming months and some of it continues to fund clinical trials with research institutions.

How it works

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Elemind detects that subject is awake.

At its core, Elemind has figured out how to predict what brain waves will come through your head, like whether you might feel a brain tremor. And Elemind figured out tones to play — sounds that could be considered music — to counter the brain waves, particularly those that might disrupt your sleep or make you feel sharp pain, said Wang.

The company’s wearable neurotechnology reads individual brainwaves and guides them in real-time by responding with tailored sound stimulation. Precision guidance of brainwaves changes behavior in a smarter, more targeted and natural way than pharmaceuticals. 

Elemind’s wearable neurotechnology platform utilizes a proprietary algorithm and AI to read individual brainwaves and provide real-time guidance through tailored sound stimulation. This drug-free and noninvasive approach, termed “electric medicine,” is designed to bring about behavioral changes more intelligently and naturally than with traditional pharmaceuticals, Wang said.

The company has partnered with leading research institutions to validate its technology and has published multiple studies in peer-reviewed journals, including Nature Communications. Elemind’s wearable has undergone five clinical trials, demonstrating its effectiveness in inducing sleep up to 74% faster and suppressing essential tremor within just 30 seconds of stimulation. The impact on other neurological conditions is currently under peer review.

elemind 3
Elemind stimulates David’s brains to reduce his alpha waves and boost his theta waves.

The company said Elemind’s technology represents a new era in neurotech, offering precision and adaptability. The wearable aims to fine-tune stimulation based on the body’s response until the desired state is achieved.

The exciting thing is that the treatment embedded in the device can be tuned by AI to fit each patient. It can help people with a brain-related illness, or it can also help the general population improve their well being.

“We envision this device as being one that will both treat but also just generally improve your well being,” Perry said. “This product is designed to address neurological issues only. It will not treat things like cancer. But where we envision this going, our first product is going to focus on one of the areas that we’ve been researching. In a sense, it will treat but it will also improve your life daily in one area.”

She added, “But our device is packed with biosensors that’s reading what’s going on inside of your body. And it’s continuously monitoring your body. And so we’re going to be able to use AI and machine learning to be able to diagnose and detect issues as they and potentially even predict them, or predict that they’re about to occur before they actually do.”

“What’s so cool about, you know, using a an electronic tool to be able to monitor and improve health is that, when you combine all of these things, you can actually see in real time whether or not ‘treatment’ itself is working,” Perry said. “If it’s not working, you can change it until it does work. And then it can stop working when the issue is resolved. We call this sort of like an AI health tailor that can apply to really any kind of neurological issue. And we can learn over time, what kind of stimulation protocol will lead to the best outcome for the individual. And so that can address a whole host of different issues.”

Wang said everybody has unique brainwaves. Figuring out what brainwaves are important for what behaviors and what time and how to influence them is the challenge. There is a lot of customization that is possible. In that way, there is a lot of room for learning and improvement, Wang said.

“There are so many things about the brain we still don’t know,” Wang said.

People respond to different stimulation protocols differently and so that has to be tuned for different patients, who can have different responses at different times or days. The goal is to find a baseline stimulation protocol that works for the general population, and then have machine learning take over to make the treatment more precise.

They have seen no negative sound effects, largely because sound is used to trigger the brain waves, Perry said.

Investor support

Elemind's plan for treatment.
Elemind’s plan for treatment.

Top-tier tech investors and founders have shown significant interest in Elemind, with a notable list of participants in the Seed round, including Village Global, LDV Partners, MIT Investment Fund, and founders of Skype and Nest.

Village Global, backed by Jeff Bezos, Reid Hoffman, Bill Gates, and Ann Wojcicki, was the first investor in Elemind. LDV Partners, a global deep-tech and life sciences fund, also joined the round, with Qing Zhang, a seasoned investor and Harvard-trained medical doctor, taking a seat on Elemind’s board of directors.

Other funds participating in the round included MIT’s investment fund, E14 Fund, Wharton’s Alumni Angel fund, Embark Ventures, as well as the founders of Skype, Nest, Opentable, Broadvision, Boston Scientific, Vital Proteins, and Fab Fit Fun.

“Elemind’s AI-enhanced neurotech wearable represents the latest advancements in the industry. The team has made significant progress towards its vision, and I’m excited about what’s to come in 2024,” said Erik Torenberg, venture partner at Village Global, in a statement.

Zhang, a partner at LDV Partners, said in a statement, “Elemind is revolutionizing neurotechnology. Their innovative design combines cutting-edge technology with thoughtful craftsmanship to help individuals improve their health.”

Elemind’s founders have been conducting research and developing the technology since 2019. The company currently holds three critical patents covering core signal processing algorithms, applications, and dynamic neurostimulation techniques.

Elemind’s first product, positioned as a general wellness product, will not be subject to FDA regulation. The company plans to reveal more details about the product in the coming months.

Validating the technology

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Elemind has a method for treating brain-related problems.

Elemind and its founders have been conducting research and developing its technology in stealth since 2019. Elemind currently holds three critical patents covering its core signal processing algorithms, applications, and dynamic neurostimulation techniques. 

Elemind’s first product is a general wellness product and will not be subject to FDA regulation. The company has filed for patents, and a couple of them are co-owned with MIT.

Perry said the core technology allows the company to modulate brainwaves in real time, which is something that no one else has been able to do.

“We look for conditions or brain states that are influenced or controlled by brainwaves because then we could potentially have the ability to influence or control those brain states,” Perry said.

So far, about five clinicals have been conducted on essential tremor, learning and anesthesia. Hundreds of people have been involved in those clinical trails. The trials focused on inducing sleep, suppressing physical tremors, boosting memory, and increasing pain thresholds.

Their partners at George Washington University McGill Abroad found in a study that if you combine the treatment with anesthesia, you can enhance the effects of anesthesia so that someone can have a higher pain tolerance. And that means that if a patient is undergoing surgery, they might be able to take a lower dose of the anesthesia and recover faster. It will also be a lot less expensive for both the hospital and the patient, Perry said.

Wang also said that another study showed that by playing tones at the correct time during deep sleep, they can reinforce motor memory. That means they can basically reinforce certain memories, he said.

“So effectively, we can help someone form stronger memories while they’re sleeping,” Wang said.

Asked if that tone was akin to music, Wang said essentially that was correct. Elemind means “elevate your mind.”

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