Evoke Neuroscience Seeks to Expand its Reach in Brain Sensing Market

by James Cavuoto, editor

May 2014 issue

Evoke Neuroscience, the manufacturer of neurosensing and brain analysis systems with offices in New York City and Jacksonville, NC, has set its sights on expanding its presence in the neurotechnology industry. The company’s portable brain analysis system, which incorporates electrophysiological sensors, software, and processing hardware, has to date been targeted at healthcare professionals, including general practitioners, neurologists, and clinical psychologists. In the future, Evoke is looking to develop products for the sports and consumer neurotech markets as well.

Evoke Neuroscience was formed in 2009 by a team of research scientists, clinicians, and business professionals seeking to develop advances in brain science. The three cofounders have over 60 combined years of expertise in the assessment and training of elite peak performance, concussion, brain injury, and optimizing healthy aging populations among the military, professional athletes, and civilians.

David Hagedorn, who serves as CEO, is experienced in clinical health psychology and neuropsychology and has been a neuroscience and biofeedback consultant. He is also an assistant professor of military and emergency medicine and family medicine at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences School of Medicine. He has masters degrees in both applied behavior analysis and in clinical psychology with a graduate specialty in gerontology. He also has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology with an additional health psychology doctoral certificate and postdoctoral training in neuropsychology.

James Thompson, who serves as chief scientific officer, holds both a masters degree and doctorate degree in kinesiology, specializing in sports-related brain injury and psychophysiology from Penn State University. Thompson specializes in the use of neurological and physiological testing and training techniques for assessment and active care in rehabilitating TBI and for performance enhancement.

Nicole Hagedorn, who serves as chief medical officer, is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where she earned the title of commissioned officer in the U.S. Army and accepted a rare medical school scholarship. She is a graduate of Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She also holds a certificate from the American Board of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Hagedorn has been in medical practice since 1998 and is currently consulting in anti-aging integrative functional medicine for Coastal Neurotherapy, P.A. and Palms Wellness.

The three founders put up the seed capital for the business. In 2011, the company raised some angel investment funds. In 2012, Evoke brought on an unidentified strategic partner.

Evoke’s eVox system makes use of multi-modal brain evaluations that directly lead to training and rehabilitation solutions that until now have not been available to the public. It includes a 19-sensor EEG cap, EKG electrodes, a laptop computer, software, disposables, and a bluetooth wireless amplifier to process the physiological signals. The system can perform a variety of brain sensing tests, evoked potential tests, and other neuropsychological assessments that can help clinicians treating disorders such as ADHD, anxiety, and sleep disorders. The system costs between $15,000 and $20,000, depending on configuration and clinicians pay a fee of about $300 for each test, which uses cloud-based storage and processing. Users do not pay for off-line biofeedback sessions.

The company’s BIAT software can perform EEG, ERP, and EKG data collection for analysis and EEG and HRV biofeedback. Disposables included with the system include electro-conductive gel, syringe, blunt tip needles, alcohol swabs, pre-gelled EKG sensors, NuPrep skin preparatory cream, and Q-tips. The provided disposables allow for approximately 15 to 20 subject recordings.

Evoke claims that on average, clinics can show a profit of between $675 to $1000 per use. Billing is done by the clinic directly to the patient or insurance provider. Additionally, clinics can charge fees for biofeedback training performed using the Evoke system.

In an interview with NBR, Evoke CEO David Hagedorn and CSO James Thompson said the company has already achieved its breakeven point, although they raised the possibility of a series A investment round to finance future product directions. The company is planning to launch a product line for the sports market, which would include a portable concussion assessment device as well as programs to monitor and improve peak performance. The company is also looking to launch a consumer version of their system for home use, which would capitalize on the quantified self movement. At the recent NeuroGaming Conference in San Francisco, Thompson spoke on a panel devoted to cognitive gaming platforms. He stressed that a mobile architecture is critical in this environment and advised game developers to find the optimum level of challenge for each user.

Finally, Evoke is investigating incorporating transcranial direct current stimulation technology into its clinical systems, which would offer clinicians the ability to offer neuromodulation therapy for disorders such as stroke and aphasia. Hagedorn said the company holds key patents for combining tDCS with neurosensing. He stressed that tDCS alone would not produce a lasting effect, but when paired with brain-computer interface technology, it could offer a powerful adjunct to pharmacology for treatment of a number of neurological disorders.

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