The billionaire Neuralink executive is reportedly mulling an investment into a rival brain chip firm

Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk is considering an investment into Synchron, a brain chip developer which competes with his own similar company, Neuralink, according to Reuters.

Musk has reached out to Synchron’s founder and CEO Thomas Oxley in recent weeks to explore a possible venture, four people familiar with the discussions told the outlet, though noted that the talks are far from finalized and it is yet unclear whether a deal will be made.

Based in New York City, Synchron is several steps ahead of Neuralink in securing regulatory approval to test its brain implants in humans, receiving the green light from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year. Before that, it conducted a separate round of human trials on four people in Australia, gleaning valuable data for future tests.

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Elon Musk nears human testing of brain chip

While Musk has repeatedly hinted at human tests for the Neuralink in the near future, they have yet to be authorized for that use and it is not known where the company currently stands in the regulatory process. In contrast to Synchron’s device, installing the Neuralink requires a major surgical operation involving cuts into the skull, possibly explaining the slower progress.

The talks between Musk and Synchron would not be the first time the billionaire reached out to a rival brain technology company, having held discussions with Paradromics Inc. in 2020, according to Reuters. Those negotiations have since been cut off, however.

Despite the comparative lack of headway with regulators, Neuralink is a significantly larger company, boasting a 300-employee roster and garnering some $363 million in investments since its founding in 2016. Synchron, which was launched the same year, has around 60 workers and has attracted a more modest $65 million from investors.

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