Published on Feb 21, 2022
Topic/Category: Neuromodulation, Deals
Innovative neuromodulation startup, CereGate is developing therapeutic solutions using a brain-computer interface that is ripe for investment and future strategic partnerships. Using implanted electrodes, CereGate gathers sensory data and acts as a communications portal to the patient’s neurological system. The goal is to make the system useful for patients with sensory deprivation issues or neurological disorders by gathering information directly from the human brain, which could be used to operate external devices or even the patient’s own body. The company states that its goal is to allow patients to use their own power to improve their condition. At present, the focus is on helping patients with Parkinson’s disease improve their gait, using brain stimulation waveforms to mitigate the freezing of gait problems that Parkinson’s patients experience (See Medtech Pro Startup Tracker).
Neuromodulation, the use of electrical and computational devices to modulate and enhance neurological activity, is an exciting area on the frontier of medicine. In the past, clinicians were limited in their treatment options for patients with neurological and sensory disorders. For example, conventional treatments focus on invasive surgeries or pharmaceutical interventions that have a limited impact on the patient’s condition and quality of life. Many conditions, such as ALS (known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), have few or very limited treatment options available. And frankly, they aren’t significant interventions, so the patient’s longevity and quality of life aren’t impacted meaningfully.
Brain-computer interfaces offer new hope for many neurological disorders. This innovative technology combines computer power with the patient’s brain to restore control over neurological function. A brain-computer interface receives signals from the patient’s brain and then uses them to implement a desired action. There are many challenges, such as interpreting the brain’s desired action, translating it, and then sending the signals in an appropriate fashion to carry out the desired action. This could involve moving a limb or an external device such as a wheelchair. The scope of applications is broad, touching on wide-ranging disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, ALS, and even helping stroke patients.
Life Science Intelligence (LSI) tracks major markets for medical devices, providing quick insights into dozens of markets. Neuromodulation treatments can involve surgical implantation of a device or the utilization of transcutaneous devices. Surgical implantation accounts for the majority of procedures; however, this type of treatment is elective. The Neuromodulation Devices Market Snapshot from LSI’s Medtech Pro reports that this market was already generating $4.6 billion in global sales with a unit volume of 10.1 million in 2020. While the sales figures are stunning, the market was severely impacted by COVID-19 as these types of procedures are considered elective. However, sales exploded to more than $6.1 billion in 2021, a growth rate of 32.2%, reflecting the backlog of elective procedures from the previous year. After this massive growth spurt, the market is expected to settle down to slower but consistent growth over the next five years. The expected CAGR for 2020-2025 is 8.6% for sales and 5.3% for unit volume, with annual sales rising to nearly $7 billion in 2025.
The space is dominated by familiar players in the medical devices market. Medtronic, a global medical device company with nearly $29 billion in revenue in 2020, dominates the sector with a 54.8% market share. Other important companies with leading market shares in neuromodulation devices include Abbott, Cyberonics, LivaNova, and Nevro. LSI has identified Medtronic as a potential strategic partner or investor in CereGate, which means CereGate could be well-positioned for future growth and investment.
Despite the advanced nature of the technology, the cost of brain-computer implantable devices is actually relatively low compared to many implantable devices. It is estimated that the initial cost of a brain-computer interface ranges from $5,000 to $10,000. However, there are additional costs over the life of the device due to the necessity of ongoing technical support.
Brain-Computer interfaces represent the possibility of breakthrough technologies that can empower patients and improve their quality of life, allowing people with neurological conditions to attain more independence than previously thought possible. However, despite the promise and lofty ambitions, many challenges remain. One challenge in this market is the development of practical brain-computer interfaces requiring expertise across multiple areas: medical, biological, computer hardware and electronics, and software engineering. In addition, several challenges directly related to device design include accurate and relevant acquisition of signals from the brain, safety of implantable hardware in the brain and long-term prospects, and reliability of output. CereGate appears well-positioned to deal with these issues with a stellar team and interest from several leading companies that could be strategic partners.
CereGate is clearly at the forefront of an area of medical treatment expected to explode in the coming years, as improvements in computer technology and electronics make Brain-Computer interfaces more practical. Founded in 2019, CereGate looks to be a major player in this new medical devices market. According to LSI’s Medtech Pro Deals Database, CereGate acquired a round of Series A funding from 468 Capital, re.Mind Capital, and three others on January 12, 2022 (amount undisclosed). Prior to this, the company received an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Heal Capital in 2020.
CereGate may also be attracting interest from major players in the medical devices space. These include Medtronic, Boston Scientific, and even Google. LSI reports that these companies may be interested in strategic partnerships, acquisitions, or investments. Given that Medtronic already has a commanding share of the neuromodulation market, a strategic partnership with or acquisition of CereGate could significantly strengthen Medtronic’s position in the neuromodulation sector.
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