The Year in Review

As 2014 comes to a close, a look back at events in the last year reveals it was one of the most productive and promising in the history of the neurotechnology industry. Positive developments in research findings, product approvals, startup activity, government funding, investment, and even IPO activity were reported in each issue of this publication. Though not all the news was good, the vast majority of what we reported on in these pages renewed the sense of optimism we displayed in our first issue in 2001.

Perhaps most noteworthy is the wealth of new neurotech initiatives funded by the U.S. government. In addition to the president’s BRAIN initiative, DARPA stepped up to the plate in a big way with its SUBNETS program for DBS for neuropsychiatric disorders [NBR Jun14 p1], RAM program for memory disorders, HAPTIX program for neuroprosthetics, and the ElectRx program for bioelectronic medicine. The neurotech industry should take great comfort in one assertion in the agency’s public announcement: “DARPA’s Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program is seeking innovative research proposals to help transform neuromodulation therapies from last resort to first choice for a wide range of diseases.”

The NIH’s SPARC program will augment the ElectRx program to fund electroceutical approaches to treating systemic disorders with neurostimulation. So will private initiatives such as GlaxoSmithKline’s $50 million fund for bioelectronics ventures.

On the financial front, several neurotech startup firms completed IPOs, an activity that was nearly dormant in prior years. These include U.S. firms Nevro, which netted $131 million, Second Sight, which raised $36 million, and ReWalk Robotics, which raised $41 million. In Europe, Pixum Vision raised €34.5 million while Mainstay Medical raised €18 million on the Euronext exchange. Probably the most significant acquisition of the year was Medtronic’s purchase of Sapiens Steering Brain Stimulation for $200 million [NBR Sep14 p5], though there were a host of smaller deals during the year. The resurgence of both IPO and M&A exits will undoubtedly do much to spur venture capital investment in neurotech startups.

Finally, 2014 was a good year for neurotech device approvals. Significant FDA approvals included the Inspire Medical Upper Airway System [NBR Sep14 p3], the Cefaly Migraine Stimulator [NBR Mar14 p1], the eNeura Spring TMS system [NBR May14 p4] and the Stimwave Freedom 4 microstimulator [see article, p1]. Though not a device approval per se, the FDA’s reversal of its previous decision to reclassify cranial electrical stimulation [NBR Jun14 p2] was a major win for the industry.

Our wishes to all readers for an equally prosperous 2015.

James Cavuoto

Editor and Publisher

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