University Venture Fund II has joined lead investor Christian Angermayer’s re.Mind Capital, an SPV sponsored by Peter Thiel, German entrepreneur Tim Sievers, and with investment advice from local investor LDD (Lead Dog Development) in closing a $10 million financing round for Blackrock Neurotech, the world’s leading platform for brain-computer interface (BCI) technology and manufacturing.
“The impact Blackrock is making through BCI technology is transformative,” said Geoff Davis, Sorenson Impact Center CEO. “This investment aligns with our vision of a thriving world where all people are valued and impact is integrated into the decision making and operations of organizations across all sectors.”
Backed by the David Eccles School of Business and the Sorenson Impact Center at the University of Utah, UVF II is a student-centric social impact fund that incorporates teaching students how to diligence an investment with professional oversight on the diligence and management of an impact venture fund. The University Venture Fund II is the world’s largest independently managed student-centric impact fund.
“This investment highlights the strength of the UVF model,” said Jeramy Lund, managing director of Impact Investing at the Sorenson Impact Center at the University of Utah. “We are excited to be onboard with Blackrock Neurotech.”
Blackrock Neurotech has powered a wide range of “firsts” in human BCI applications. The company is the first to provide tetraplegic patients the ability to control robotic limbs directly from and with the brain; and the first to enable a fully locked-in ALS patient to talk again via a voice synthesizer, directly controlled by their mind.
“Blackrock is at the forefront of making BCI in humans a reality,” said Marcus Gerhardt, CEO and co-founder of Blackrock Neurotech. “Dozens of human patients are currently using our implants and technology to accomplish things directly with their minds that were unimaginable ten years ago. We have spent over a decade developing our technology with several hundred of the world’s leading research institutions and over 20 clinical partner centers. We are grateful to have local investment from Sorenson and fundraising support from LDD, who share our vision and want to see more patients helped through our work. You want Chutzpah in Utah, there you have it!”
Patients equipped with Blackrock’s small in-brain implants have demonstrated usable lifetimes of over seven years. Blackrock is the only company in the world with an implantable penetrating array with almost 100 electrodes per device, that is already FDA cleared and used in humans. Some patients even use several devices.
Lund said the landmark deal for UVF was a team effort.
Chance Murray, our director of impact investment, carefully stewarded this deal through protracted negotiations with Blackrock to arrive at a win-win investment, “ said Lund. “I’m very proud of the efforts of Charlotte Magee, our Senior Associate on this transaction, who really dug in and helped us understand how impressive Blackrock was in terms of both their human impact and financial possibilities. Finally Marcus Gerhart and Florian Solzbacher worked with us to accommodate an investment because of the impact this program has both for companies and for students. ”
About the University Venture Fund II
Backed by the David Eccles School of Business and the Sorenson Impact Center at the University of Utah, the University Venture Fund II provides an unparalleled opportunity for students interested in impact investing, venture capital, private equity, and entrepreneurship by making socially impactful investments in companies and ideas with a Utah centric focus but throughout the US. UVF II has completed 17 investments to date across multiple sectors including Healthcare, Financial Inclusion, Education and Environmental Solutions. For more information, visit https://www.uventurefund.com.
About Blackrock Neurotech
Blackrock Neurotech is dedicated to the company’s accelerated efforts in clinical translation and brain-computer interface (BCI) technology. Blackrock, founded in 2008, is the world’s leading platform company for BCI technology for teams developing implantable solutions to improve human lives. Blackrock’s precision electrode technology is at the core of many worldwide innovations in BCI and has enabled dozens of early users (known as “BCI Pioneers”) to SeeAgain, HearAgain, MoveAgain, TalkAgain and more. For more information, visit www.blackrockneurotech.com.
About the David Eccles School of Business
The Eccles School is synonymous with ‘doing.’ The Eccles experience provides a world-class business education with a unique, entrepreneurial focus on real-world scenarios where students put what they learn into practice long before graduation. Founded in 1917 and educating more than 6,000 students annually, the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business offers nine undergraduate majors, four MBAs, eight other graduate programs, a Ph.D. in seven areas and executive education curricula. The Eccles School is also home to 12 institutes, centers and initiatives that deliver academic research and support an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation. For more information, visit Eccles.Utah.edu or call 801-581-7676.