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WISE


Electronics Neuromonitoring and neuromodulation technologies combine practical tools for patient care with


what often seem like plot points from science fiction, and are on their way to erasing the traditional boundaries between medical devices and pharmaceuticals. The CEOs of two start-ups using new types of electrodes to define the space, Manfred Franke of Neuronoff and Luca Ravagnan of WISE, talk through their approaches to navigating the industry’s newest frontier.


The inside story E


lectrodes are getting avant-garde. They’re being stretched, softened, embedded and reformed into injectables, stents, neural ‘dust’ and brain ‘threads’ to interface with the human body. The potential is capturing the imaginations of the public and the pockets of investors. Those behind it just need to convince patients, doctors and regulators that it’s applicable to them today. Here Luca Ravagnan, CEO of WISE, and Manfred Franke, CEO of Neuronoff, offer first-person accounts of how they are trying to do so.


Brain power Luca Ravagnan: We are solving what we consider one of the major problems in neurotechnology in general, and particularly in the neuromodulation and neuromonitoring fields, which is the mechanics of the electrodes. Currently, electrodes are generally made of hard metallic pieces that are embedded into thick polymeric films, typically silicone.


But you have to consider that the brain is like padding – it’s very soft. Our technology enables us to directly embed a conductive platinum layer into the silicone, which means we can make very conformable and stretchable electrodes that can adapt to the shape, and, in general, match the mechanical properties of the brain or a nerve, making for a much better connection. Everything started from an experiment. I’m a materials scientist by training, and I was working at a university when we accidentally discovered this technology and understood we were able to embed a stretchable conductor into rubber. Our idea was to exploit this in the medical implant space and I left academia in 2011 to found the company. I’m proud to say that we are doing exactly what we said ten years ago, but it took funding on the one hand and time on the other to carry the technology from something that works in the experimental


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Medical Device Developments / www.nsmedicaldevices.com


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