Personal tragedy inspires launch of U-M spin-out, Neurable
Making the world a better place is the kind of warm and fuzzy rhetoric tech entrepreneurs use when launching their new startup.
Ramses Alcaide wants to make the world a better place, too, but his inspiration comes from personal experience.
The University of Michigan PhD candidate is dedicated to developing technologies to assist people with physical disabilities because he witnessed first-hand the challenges of living with such disabilities. In particular, the hardships that faced his favorite uncle. That uncle, also a scientist, suffered an accident that immobilized his legs when Alcaide was a young man. His struggles stuck with the U-M grad student.
"I remember seeing him struggle to relearn how to walk with the archaic technology of the time," Alcaide says. "I thought there has to be a better way. But I had no idea what that was."
Those memories served as the inspiration for Alcaide's post doctorate studies and a new startup called Neurable. The University of Michigan spin-out is developing a non-invasive brain-computer interface that allows for real-time control of software and physical objects, allowing people to control wheelchairs, robots and even a car with no training. Neurable currently has a working prototype of its technology and is working toward commercializing it next year.
The startup aims to raise $500,000 in seed capital to make that happen and more. "We have much bigger dreams," Alcaide says. "We want to make it into a full-fledged company." It's off to a good start. Neurable, with the help of U-M's Zell-Lurie Institute, took second place in the Rice Business Plan Competition. That gave it $50,000 in seed capital, as well as up to $280,000 for the competition's OWL Investment Prize.
"I really wanted to bring this technology to the next level so I can help as many people as possible," Alcaide says.