MindMaze, a Swiss end-to-end multisensory computing platform, has raised $100 million in a new round of funding led by Hinduja Group, a London-based 102-year-old global conglomerate, with participation from family offices.
The startup’s pre-money valuation was more than $1 billion, according to the company. MindMaze will use the funds to launch top-end medical-grade neural virtual reality platforms. The company had previously raised approximately $8-$10 million from Swiss and European Union grants, foundations and angel investors, reportedly valuing the company at $100 million in early 2015.
MindMaze is a nearly 4-year old spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), and has become one of the top 10 healthcare startups in Switzerland. It was founded in April 2012 by Ted Taji, who holds a PhD degree in Neuroscience and Virtual Reality from EPFL. The company is based in Lausanne, Switzerland, with U.S. headquarters in San Francisco, Calif.
MindMaze’s breakthrough platform for building intuitive human machine interfaces combines virtual reality, computer vision, neuroscience, AI and haptics. The first-of-its-kind multisensory technology has already been commercialized for stroke and brain-injury survivors and its current regulatory approvals enable the company to accelerate placement of devices in Europe and Asia.
The MindMaze platform will become more broadly available through licensing in the business-to-business and business-to-consumer spaces to power virtual reality-optimized products for mainstream experiences.
“MindMaze’s next-generation human-machine interface is already proving itself in healthcare, games, and its potential for applications in transportation, defense and various types of media are now ready to be truly explored,” said a spokesperson of Hinduja Group. “We are excited to help MindMaze build on its achievements, while seeing that both current and future partners have their collective visions realized.”
“This funding round is the first endorsement of the investment potential for the MindMaze platform and supports our vision to build the Human Interface,” said MindMaze founder and CEO, Tej Tadi.
“MindMaze wants to become the (top) neuro-medical device company in the world. Our big vision is five years from now every device should have a MindMaze chip in it,” Tadi told the Economic Times. “The chip computes the world like your brain does–more intuitively. You think of something and that would happen through the software.”
Tadi, born to a family of physicians in Hyderabad, India, has spent the last 10 years working with patients suffering from different neurological deficits, helping schizophrenic, stroke and amputee patients overcome movement deficits and phantom pain. As part of his doctoral studies, he had set up a lab to combine motion capture, three-dimensional feedback and brain imaging, said ET. That led to MindMaze.
MindMaze’s distribution and manufacturing partnerships in Asia position the company to scale the technology to an even broader range of verticals while consolidating its current interests. This is illustrated by MindMaze’s success in the healthcare sector, where partnerships have been forged for financing and leasing of devices; and in customer service centers in more than 50 countries. These new opportunities are opening up MindMaze to unprecedented startup markets and territories.
MindMaze brings together a coalition of industry experts and thought leaders who were drawn to the vision and milestones achieved by the company in such a short period of time. The board and advisory team is comprised of some of the world’s top business and scientific leaders from such major and prominent organizations and institutions such as Medtronic, Baxter, HBO, Stanford University, UC San Francisco, The Brown Institute for Brain Science, The Wyss Biotech Center and EPFL.
MindMaze will bring human connection and emotion to immersive games and experiences, while it continues to build on its history of delivering clinical data and results for doctors and patients. Within the healthcare space, the platform will be tested in key U.S. centers for both motor and cognitive recovery applications in 2016.
MindMaze is a neurotechnology company built on more than a decade of cutting-edge research at the intersection of neuroscience and virtual reality. In less than three years, MindMaze has become one of the top startups in Switzerland. The company brings together an eclectic mix of computer scientists, neuroscientists, physicists and roboticists driven by a passion to enhance the quality of life of brain injury survivors. MindMaze is now expanding its multisensory platform into new fields of consumer health and technology.
The Hinduja Group is a global conglomerate headquartered in London, UK. The company was founded in 1914 by Parmanand Deepchand Hinduja, who was from a Hindu family based in Sindh, India (now in Pakistan). Initially operating in Mumbai, India, he set up the company’s first international operation in Iran in 1919. The headquarters of the group moved to Iran where it remained until 1979, when the Islamic Revolution forced it to move to Europe. Srichand Hinduja and his brother Gopichand moved to London in 1979 to develop an export business; Prakash manages the group’s finances in Geneva, Switzerland while the youngest brother, Ashok, oversees the Indian interests. The brothers are all devout Hindu, vegetarian and teetotallers, and dress in similar ways, with a preference for black suits and round glasses.
Under the leadership of its chairman, Srichand, the Hinduja Group has become one of the largest diversified groups in the world. The group’s activities span across three core areas: Investment Banking, International Trading and Global Investments. As part of its Global investments, the Group owns businesses in Automotive, Information Technology, Media, Entertainment & Communications, Banking & Finance Services, Infrastructure Project Development, Oil and Gas, Power, Real Estate, Trading and Healthcare. It also supports charitable and philanthropic activities across the world through the Hinduja Foundation. The group employs over 70,000 people and has offices across 37 countries, and in all the major cities in India. In 2014, Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja emerged as the richest men in Britain with a net wealth of about $20 billion.