The startup, which has FDA-cleared products for rehabilitation after a stroke or brain injury, plans to use the funds to expand into other indications and grow its presence in North America and Europe.
A growing number of healthcare startups are tapping into technologies originally used for video games, such as VR headsets and motion sensors. One of them, MindMaze, has notched multiple FDA clearances and CE marks for its digital therapies to help people recover after a stroke or brain injury.
The Lausanne, Switzerland-based company recently raised $125 million, led by AlbaCore Capital Group, a London-based specialized credit investor. It plans to use the funds to expand its business across North America and Europe, and expand its portfolio through clinical trials. Some of the conditions it hopes to expand into include treatments for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
CEO Tej Tadi, a neuroscientist and engineer, started the company in 2012, based on his research that virtual reality could be used to affect people’s perceptions of their own body. For his work with MindMaze, that meant using the technology to help stroke patients who lost movement on one side of the body regain some of it through virtual exercises.
“We very quickly realized that someone who cannot move their hands can look at something that’s virtual that’s moving, and that tricks the brain into believing that area can still move,” he said.
This works because of our mirror neuron system, which allows us to learn through imitation, Tadi said.
MindMaze currently divides its business into two segments: Rehab DTx, or technologies to help therapists treat patients at home and in clinical settings, and Restore DTx, a suite of digital therapeutics, some of which it has brought in through recent acquisitions. The company claims hundreds of centers are currently using its technology, including the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Mount Sinai Health System.
It has three FDA cleared products. Most recently, it got the green light from regulators in 2018 for its MindMotion Go device, which uses the Microsoft Kinect motion capture device to “gamify” rehabilitation tasks for people with medium and light severity impairments. The company was valued at more than $1 billion after raising $100 million in 2016.
Although MindMaze may be turning exercises into games, Tadi is serious about his company’s approach. He pointed to the proliferation of wellness apps in the marketplace, while describing his decision to focus on the other end of the spectrum first.
“There are thousands of apps that say you can meditate… there’s different kinds of pieces that look at mental health,” he said. “Instead of taking an approach from that towards healthcare, we’ve gone and done the work around serious neurological diseases, and we’ve built a platform that can then scale the other way.”