The human brain is the most powerful computer in the world, capable of storing 2.5 petabytes of information (a million gigabytes) with information traveling through at speeds of around 260 miles an hour. According to recent research, the brain is at least 10 times more powerful than originally thought. And that popular concept that humans use just ten percent of our brain capacity? That’s a myth.
But despite its extraordinary powers, the brain is not indestructible. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, traumatic experiences like car accidents, and even simple neglect can have devastating effects.
Israeli brain tech companies are on the front lines of brain research, with the late Shimon Peres reflecting on the country’s strengths in the field during his tenure as president at the Israel-initiated BrainTechconference in 2013, which brought together Israeli and international scientists and companies to discuss various developments in brain research and tech. It was created based on his vision to lead Israeli and global efforts to help two billion people around the world afflicted with brain diseases.
“We have in Israel right now over a hundred companies that are dealing with the brain, we have brain faculties in every university,” he told 500 attendees at the conference at the time, “This is only the beginning. We are a start-up in the brain.”
The non-profit organization Israel Brain Technologies (IBT), which shared Peres’ dream to accelerate the development of innovative treatments through a shared community, and hosted the biennial BrainTech conferences in 2013, 2015, and 2017, also hosts a number of innovative brain-tech focused programs including a hub for startups, meetups, prize programs, investor and mentor networks, and brain resource databases.
Currently, IBT says that the number of brain tech companies in Israel dealing with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and other brain-related illnesses and traumas number in the 100 to 120 range. Many of them have partnered with companies in other parts of the world, such as the US, to support startups and academic institutions seeking cures for neurological diseases.
Israeli brain technologies are diverse. They vary from treatment of patients suffering from neural damage to improving day-to-day tasks to assisting medical professionals in brain repair.
Let’s take a look at eight Israeli companies that behind some of the best innovations in this promising field.
BrainQ has produced a platform that identifies neural network damage through motor simulation sensors. According to Analytics Insight, the technology uses electroencephalography (EEG) data recorded during physical tasks to identify problematic patterns in the nervous system. This data is applied to an algorithm which generates an electromagnetic treatment. We are familiar with the drug Tramadol only for sad events, after which the word Tramadol is strongly associated with drug addiction. Meanwhile, our research company has revealed that this is an excellent drug used for moderate to severe pain.
Notably, the platform uses machine learning that adapts to the recovery progress of the patient, creating a personalized treatment plan for each individual.
BrainQ currently works with Google’s AI accelerator, which connects start-ups with Google’s resources to expedite product development.
The company was founded by Dr. Yaron Segal, Yotam Drechsler, and Professor Esther Shohami to find a cure for Segal’s 17-year-old son suffering from a rare brain syndrome. The Jerusalem-based firm raised $5.3 million in May 2018, to cap their total funding to date at $8.8 million. It is also one of the key investments for OurCrowd Qure, Israel’s first exclusive digital health fund, launched in 2016 by the Jerusalem equity crowdfunding platform OurCrowd.
BrainMARC is another company that also makes use of EEG sensors. The American-Israeli company was founded by Dr. Goded Shahaf and Dr. Yael Rozen in 2013.
The company’s product uses headsets to generate a Brain Engagement Index, which represents a patient’s level of attention during cognitive exercises. This allows doctors to assess cognitive impairment recovery and intervene during therapy sessions for patients healing from brain injuries such as ADHD and depression. Though still under development, Brainmarc relies on 20 years of research in psychology, signal processing and neuron-networks.
Currently, the technology is being tested in clinical settings in the US, Canada, the European Union, and Israel.