Kernel raises $53M for ‘neuroscience as a service’ model

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Kernel wants to turn neuroscience into a service.

Technology has revolutionized the way things get done. Now, an LA-based bioscience startup called Kernel wants to transform neuroscience into a service. Though its approach sounds like sci-fi, Kernel just raised $53 million as part of a Series C round.

The company aims to change the way researchers perform neuroscience studies by increasing access to its non-invasive monitoring technologies. Kernel plans to do so by scaling its “Neuroscience as a Service” (NaaS) model to give paying clients access to its platform—even if they are working remotely.

New Money

The ambitious startup announced the close of its latest funding round on Thursday in a company press release. It notes that the $53 million sum is its first outside funding. Previously, Kernel was financed with $54 million worth of investments from its founder and CEO Bryan Johnson.

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Participants in the Series C round include General Catalyst, Khosla Ventures, Eldridge, Manta Ray Ventures, Tiny Blue Dot, and Johnson himself.

Kernel intends to use the new funding to further develop its technologies and scale its business. Earlier this year, the startup announced that its NaaS platform is available to commercial clients. Johnson calls it “Neuroscience at the touch of a button.”

As for whether or not transforming neuroscience into a more accessible venture is possible, Johnson has some strong feelings. He says, “Mainframes became PCs and then smartphones. The $1B genome became the $1,000 genome. The brain and mind are next.”

What Does Kernel Do?

The finer points of what Kernel does can be confusing for someone that isn’t involved in the neuroscience field. However, the overall concept is surprisingly simple.

Kernel has created two brain recording technologies that give researchers a glimpse into the human mind. The first is called Flux. It measures the magnetic fields created by the collective activity of neurons in the brain. The second, Flow, measures blood flow through the brain. Each of these is a key signal that researchers monitor while studying the brain.

However, measuring them typically requires the use of expensive, potentially dangerous machinery. In some cases, brain surgery is even necessary to get accurate data.

Kernel wants to make neuroscience tech more accessible to researchers in an on-demand capacity. In a sense, the startup’s approach is similar to what human genome companies have done in the past few years. They took advantage of recent breakthroughs in the field to make genome sequencing available to just about anyone.

Johnson hopes that Kernel can do the same for the business and research communities. Ultimately, his goal is for the startup to help people develop a deeper understanding of the brain. “If we can quantify thoughts and emotions, conscious and subconscious, a new era of understanding, wellness, and human improvement will emerge,” he says.

While Kernel’s platform doesn’t make everyone a neuroscientist, it could help those with the right knowledge gain better access to the tools they need to conduct research. Increasing accessibility with its NaaS platform is Kernel’s way of helping science understand how the brain works.

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