Onward Medical has been awarded a second grant from the European Innovation Council (EIC) to support the continued development of its brain-computer interface (BCI) technology for restoring mobility and upper limb function in people with spinal cord injury.
Under the EIC Pathfinder funding programme, a grant of €3.7 million has been awarded to Onward and its research partners, including EPFL and CEA-Clinatec. The project is entitled: “Auto-Adaptive Neuromorphic Brain Machine Interface (NEMO-BMI): Toward Fully Embedded Neuroprosthetics”. Under the terms of the grant, Onward will receive €1 million.
The NEMO-BMI project will support usability improvements that enable the use of a BCI to support upper and lower limb movement. Auto-adaptive algorithms will be developed for brain decoding and brain-guided spinal cord stimulation patterns, and will then be embedded in miniaturised hardware. The goal of the programme is to further enhance the BCI technology to make it reliable, small, and easy to implant, as well as to improve the BCI’s usability and manufacturability.
The NEMO-BMI project has begun and will complement the ongoing work of the Reverse Paralysis project, for which Onward and its research partners received an EIC grant of €3.6 million in June 2022. These proceeds are being used to fund integration between Onward’s implanted ARC-IM system, which delivers targeted, programmed stimulation of the spinal cord, and Clinatec’s WIMAGINE, an implantable device approved for chronic use in clinical trials in two European countries, which records and decodes the brain’s cortical signal to predict a person’s desired movement intentions.
While NEMO-BMI is a separate project from Reverse Paralysis, its goal is to build on the Reverse Paralysis framework and incorporate any improvements into the joint Onward-Clinatec BCI technology platform. The technology improvements developed in the NEMO-BMI project will be evaluated independently and then used in clinical trials as part of the Reverse Paralysis project.
Separately, Onward has announced that it was recently the first-placed winner of the 2022 international BCI Award, which is given out by the BCI Award Foundation. The award was granted to Onward and several research partners for their submission, “Walking naturally after spinal cord injury using a brain-spine interface”. This application focused on the work being done under the Reverse Paralysis project to develop a fully implantable BCI to help people walk more naturally after spinal cord injury with Onward’s ARC therapy.
“The additional funding from EIC as well as the first place in the 2022 BCI Award provide strong validation of the important work Onward and our partners are doing to advance the use of BCI to improve mobility,” said Dave Marver, CEO of Onward. “We are collaborating with the best in the field to develop and eventually commercialise a BCI platform that we hope will optimise the effectiveness of our therapies to restore movement for people living with paralysis.”