ANN ARBOR, Mich., Aug. 1, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Zell Lurie Founders Fund at the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies announced an investment in Neurable, a breakthrough brain-computer interface (BCI) technology startup. When Neurable, based on cutting edge neuroscience by Ramses Alcaide (PhD Neuroscience '16) and co-founded with Michael Thompson (MBA '17), sought additional funding, the Founders Fund team of student investors saw tremendous opportunity.
The investment builds on a $2 million seed round Neurable announced in December 2016 and will support the company's continued success and growth. On Sunday, the company unveiled its brain-computer interface product for virtual reality and is currently offering demos at SIGGRAPH, the world's largest, most influential annual conference and exhibition in computer graphics and interactive techniques.
"Neurable represents an amazing example of cross-university collaboration, where business and science came together perfectly to form a very promising venture," said Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute and manager of the Founders Fund. "It is a great addition to the portfolio, which continues to highlight the depth and breadth of entrepreneurial activity across the university that we work to inspire and enable every day at the Institute."
Neurable, whose revolutionary brain-computer interface allows people to control software and devices using only their brain activity, has taken advantage of a number of Zell Lurie Institute programs to get to where it is today. It was part of the fall 2015 class of TechArb, the University's student venture accelerator and joint initiative of The Center for Entrepreneurship and the Zell Lurie Institute. The company then participated in the 2016 Michigan Business Challenge business plan competition, where it was a finalist and went on to win more than $300,000 at the prestigious Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC). Given the close collaboration between the Institute and Neurable's co-founders, the partnership made a lot of sense to both parties.
"Ramses and I have benefited tremendously from a University of Michigan education and all of the supporting resources that come with that, especially at the Zell Lurie Institute," said Thompson. "As we transition the company from student research project into a growth-oriented business venture, it's wonderful to have the continued support of the Institute through the Founders Fund investment and the guidance of both Stewart and the student team."
Though Neurable was deeply involved with the Institute, that did not stop the student team—comprised of Ryan Finn (MBA '17), Ashka Davé (MPH/MBA '17), Christine Priori, (MBA/MMP '17) and Florence Noel (MBA '17) – from conducting proper due diligence on the company before committing to the investment. After an initial pitch from Neurable, the students managed a series of follow-up questions to vet the market, technology and team; financial analysis to understand the potential value; and in-depth negotiation to ensure the deal terms were suitable to both parties.
"Going through the process of investing in Neurable was an excellent way to apply many of the business skills I learned while at Ross and working on some of the other student-led venture funds, such as reading between the lines of communication and effectively negotiating complex terms," said Finn, who led the team of student investors on this deal. "The Neurable team was impressive through it all and was committed to ensuring the Founders Fund was the right fit for supporting the company through this pivotal phase of its growth."
The Zell Founders Fund is a $10 million seed fund led by the students who represent the top talent from the Zell Lurie Institute's other established student-led funds. The Fund has a mission to help advance the extraordinary University of Michigan students and recent alumni whose ventures need funding to move from idea to profitability. This latest investment underscores the Fund's commitment to not only supporting U-M student and alumni ventures, but also the very best ventures across the entire University. The Fund's portfolio now represents companies with ties to schools of design, medicine and, of course, business, with investments in Sneakers by Jordana and several soon-to-be-unveiled companies, in addition to Neurable. The Fund was made possible by a 2015 gift from business magnate Sam Zell.
Neurable is developing software based on breakthrough brain-computer interface (BCI) research and novel insights in neuroscience. Its patent-pending technology interprets intention based on brain activity, providing users with reliable real-time control of software and software-controlled devices using only their minds. As a platform for human-computer interaction, Neurable is targeting virtual and augmented reality, licensing its software development kit (SDK) to content developers and headset manufacturers to enable completely new and immersive experiences. For more information, visit www.neurable.com.
About the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies
The Institute and its Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance bring together an impactful combination of deep-seated knowledge, enriching experiences and strategic opportunities from the front lines of entrepreneurship and alternative investment. Students' learning experiences are further enhanced through internships, entrepreneurial clubs, business competitions and campus-wide events that foster valuable networking and engage the business community. The School's five student-led investment funds, with $8.5M under management, immerse students in the entrepreneurial business sourcing, assessment and investment process. Founding Zell Lurie advisory board members included Samuel Zell, chairman of Equity Group Investments, and Eugene Applebaum, founder of Arbor Drugs Inc. For more information, visit the Institute's website at www.zli.umich.edu
About Michigan Ross
The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan is a vibrant and distinctive learning community grounded in the principle that business can be an extraordinary vehicle for positive change in today's dynamic global economy. The Ross School of Business' mission is to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world. Through thought and action, members of the Ross community drive change and innovation that improves business and society.
Ross is consistently ranked among the world's leading business schools. Academic degree programs include the BBA, MBA, Part-time MBA (Evening and Weekend formats), Executive MBA, Global MBA, Master of Accounting, Master of Supply Chain Management, Master of Management, and PhD. In addition, the school delivers open-enrollment and custom executive education programs targeting general management, leadership development, and strategic human resource management.
SOURCE The Zell Lurie Institute