A Good Start

by James Cavuoto, editor

When we closed out the year 2023 in this space last month on a somewhat optimistic note, we really had no idea how quickly good fortune would visit the neurotechnology industry. But in fact, January 2024 proved to be a landmark month for startups, strategics, and investors in the space.

Just in case Neuralink founder Elon Musk doesn’t get enough news coverage, his announcement of the first-in-human implantation of the company’s robotic-driven BCI system was greeted even by naysayers as a significant milestone. Coming on the heels of that firm’s $280 million funding round last year, the development promises to further whet investors’ appetite for neurotech devices in general and BCI systems in particular. VCs have already pumped tens of millions into other brain implant firms like Synchron, Precision Neuro, and most recently, Motif Neurotech [see Financial News p10]. Though not BCI firms, Rune Labs, Noctrix Health, and Nalu Medical also reported significant funding rounds this month.

Another first-in-human milestone this month was Neuronoff’s announcement of its first two patients implanted with the company’s injectable PNS device. The simple but precisely targeted procedure promises to expand the realm of implanted neuromodulation devices for treating pain to a wider universe of clinicians and patients.

And while Medtronic and Abbott are hardly newcomers to the neuromodulation industry, the fact that both firms announced FDA approval of new rechargeable DBS systems promises to be a boon for the brain neuromodulation sector.

But probably the greatest piece of good news in January was Boston Scientific’s announcement that it would acquire Axonics Inc. in a $3.7 billion deal. This transaction represents the single largest deal the neurotechnology industry has ever seen. In addition to intensifying competition in the implanted sacral nerve stimulation market, the deal will likely lead to more investment and more transactions in the months and years ahead.

As we discuss in our sister publication, BioElectRx Business Report this month, the move leaves Abbott as the odd man out in the implanted SNS space and raises the stakes for other device firms targeting OAB, most notably Neuspera Medical, which is moving forward with commercialization of its device. Before it left the scene, Integer spinoff Nuvectra was believed to have had a viable SNS system that might have succeeded even as its SCS device failed. That can only be good news for Cirtec Medical, the engineering firm that is believed to have picked up the Nuvectra technology after it closed its doors. Cirtec likely has no intention of marketing its own labeled SNS system, but would certainly be a highly sought after partner for other firms that might want to hit the SNS ground running.

Of course the mere size of the Axonics acquisition —more than 10 times that company’s revenues—will remind investors that juicy exits for neurotech startups are well within the realm of possibility.

We look forward to observing what lies in store for the neurotech industry in the remainder of 2024.