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Cortical Labs Raises USD $10 Million from Horizons Ventures to Commercialise Biological Intelligence Operating System


Cortical Labs, the first company to harness the power of synthetic biology and the full potential of human neurons to develop a new class of artificial intelligence (AI), has announced the successful closure of an oversubscribed USD $10 million funding round. Horizons Ventures led the round, with participation from Blackbird Ventures, LifeX Ventures, Radar Ventures and In-Q-Tel.

Cortical Labs is the global leader in biological computing, using clusters of lab-cultivated neurons from human stem cells to form a “DishBrain.” This is integrated into their patented Biological Intelligence Operating System (biOS) with a mixture of hard silicon and soft tissue.

Human Neurons: An Untapped Resource for AI

While digital AI models try to emulate the human brain, Cortical Labs is beginning with it. Human neurons are a new and untapped resource with the potential to be far better than any digital AI model for Generalised Intelligence. They are the result of four billion years of evolution: self-programming and infinitely flexible. The DishBrain is capable of growing, adapting and learning at a faster rate than purely silicon-based AI. IT also requires far less energy consumption.

Hon Weng Chong, CEO at and Founder of Cortical Labs, commented, “The possibilities that a hybridised AI meets synthetic biology model can unlock are limitless, accelerating the possibilities of digital AI in a more powerful and more sustainable way. Our technology will shape and drive the next frontier of AI, and with this new round of capital, we are thrilled to keep accelerating research and development to bring the DishBrain to market this year.”

Jonathan Tam of Horizons Ventures added, “What is mind-blowing about Cortical Labs’ groundbreaking technology is its approach in delivering powerful computing throughput with lower energy needs. Ultimately, by being able to use these systems to better understand, and eventually harness, how neurons display intelligence, it will open up a plethora of applications, including a revolution in personalised medicine and disease detection.”

Melding AI and Synthetic Biology

The first cohort of Cortical Labs’ neurons took the world by storm with the publication of the seminal paper “In Vitro Neurons Learn and Exhibit Sentience When Embodied in a Simulated Game-World,” in the prestigious journal Neuron in October 2022. It demonstrated that if given the right stimulus and rewards, neurons in a petri dish can be encouraged to play the computer game Pong. This accomplishment spans the divide between the two disparate (until now) scientific fields of artificial intelligence and synthetic biology.

Prior to Cortical Labs’ work, the development and testing of new drugs and therapies affecting the central nervous system, or of preexisting drugs with cognitive side effects, was not possible. Similarly, advances in AI could not be compared and benchmarked against biological systems.

Cortical Labs aims to change this with the commercial development of the Cortical Labs 1 (CL1) system that will enable novel in-vitro cognitive testing for the life sciences industry. In addition to the life sciences, Cortical Labs aims to position the CL1 as the premier development and experimentation platform for researchers in the nonbiological fields such as artificial intelligence and engineering through the cloud deployment of its CL1 units.

Cortical Labs has partnered with Cambridge, UK biotech company for the research and commercialisation of the CL1 along with their academic partners at the Organoid Intelligence alliance spearheaded by Johns Hopkins University.