The University of Michigan’s Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund (ZLCF) in Ann Arbor Wednesday announced it has participated in the Series A round of breakthrough brain-computer interface technology startup and U-M spinout, Neurable.
The student-led fund is one of five at the Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. The investment will support Neurable’s growth in the virtual and augmented reality market.
Neurable was co-founded by U-M alumni Ramses Alcaide and Michael Thompson. Its brain-computer interface enables hands-free control in virtual reality, with applications ranging from entertainment and gaming, health and wellness, and work and productivity.
The platform combines machine learning with proprietary algorithms to measure and classify brain activity through a VR headset and electrode sensors in real time, translating it to control real- and virtual-world interactions.
“We are very excited to support Neurable in this next stage of growth,” says Scott Collins, vice president of portfolio management at the ZLCF. “In the due diligence process, our team was impressed by Neurable’s breakthrough BCI technology, and we believe that the company is well-positioned to lead in the emerging neurotechnology market.”
Neurable was founded in 2015 and has benefitted from the support and resources of the Zell Lurie Institute in the past. In 2017, the company received an investment from the Zell Founders Fund as part of a broader $2 million seed round. It was a semi-finalist in the 2016 Michigan Business Challenge.
“This is an exciting investment for ZLCF,” says Michael Johnson, faculty director of ZLCF and entrepreneur-in-residence at the Zell Lurie Institute. “The Neurable team and technology came out of the outstanding innovation ecosystem at the University of Michigan. The ZLCF students are looking forward to working with the team as they build a great company.”
The ZLCF offers students experience in venture capital by investing capital into companies both in and outside the university community. Fellows who manage the day-to-day operations of the fund are graduate students from various disciplines. Other fellows joining Collins on Neurable’s due diligence team include Parker Cardwell, Charles Lu, Leah Josephson, and Taylor Mattson. Thompson was a ZLCF fellow when he was a student at U-M.
“My prior role with the ZLCF was a unique learning experience into the technical and material aspects of building early-stage businesses, especially those that develop future-forward technologies such as ours,” says Thompson. “Now, on the company side, it’s been a great experience to work with the ZLCF fellows and win their support. This investment will help propel us forward to meet key goals at Neurable.”