Elon Musk’s update on Neuralink’s successful brain chip implant recently has once again brought the spotlight on the growing interest in brain-machine interface (BMI) research among corporates.

Though still in its nascent stages, as indicated by patent publication trends, there has been a consistent rise in innovative activities for universities and start-ups.

The surge has been even more pronounced among large corporates since 2019, according to Technology Foresights, a proprietary framework developed by GlobalData.

Taking a closer look at BMI technology through the lens of innovation using Technology Foresights brings out some interesting facts. A notable aspect is that over 40% of all BMI patent publications are focused on healthcare applications.

Additionally, in the year 2023 alone, 15 new companies entered the BMI patent application landscape.

Sourabh Nyalkalkar, practice head of innovation products at GlobalData, comments: “The recent strides in neuro-therapies and human-AI collaboration through BMI application underscore the technology’s vast potential with a long-term impact predicted by Technology Foresights.

“The innovation landscape of BMI is particularly dominated by technology-led companies such as chip makers, wearable producers, and several niche start-ups, notably backed by corporate venturing arms, such as Neuralink, Synchron, Paradromics, and others.

“The heightened activity among start-ups and universities, coupled with the increasing number of companies engaging in innovation within this domain, signals heightened competition in the foreseeable future.”

Since its inception in 2016, Neuralink has been at the forefront of BMI advancements. Securing regulatory approval for human trials in May 2023, the company’s innovation landscape on Technology Foresights platform features innovations such as precision surgical robots, predictive EEG analysis, and neural activity monitoring.

GlobalData’s platform reveals Neuralink’s funding journey, totaling over $540 million across five funding rounds, with investments from prominent figures such as Sam Altman, Google Ventures, and Musk himself.

Australia-based Synchron is another start-up that has made consistent strides in BMI innovation. The company has advanced by conducting trials for its BMI neural interface solution named Command, enrolling as many as six paralysis patients in September 2023.

Both Synchron and Neuralink target the same audience with a focus on neurotherapies and innovations involving neural activity monitoring and EEG analysis, as indicated by the Technology Foresights framework.

However, Synchron distinguishes itself from Neuralink in its approach to implanting the BMI chip. Synchron opts for a minimally invasive endovascular route, while Neuralink relies on precision surgical robots for chip implantation through the skull.

Notably, Synchron has garnered investments from corporate ventures, including prominent figures such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.

Sourabh concludes: “The recent advancements by Neuralink and Synchron signal a path for the corporate backers supporting them to delve deeper into the BMI ecosystem. Positive outcomes from clinical trials conducted by both companies are expected to accelerate the market entry of these groundbreaking products.

“As the competition for BMI dominance unfolds, it’s anticipated that collaborative efforts between technology giants and innovative startups will likely accelerate in the near future.”