Already up to an enrollment of 20 member organizations in less than three months of existence, the newly formed Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO; San Francisco, California) appears to be fulfilling a timely need in the neuroscience and neurotechnology sectors.

“There definitely seems to be a very strong trend in neurotechnology of coming together to create a community and a collective voice to move the industry forward,” Zack Lynch, the founder and executive director of NIO, told Medical Device Daily.

And some of NIO’s founding members agree.

“It’s a great opportunity to keep abreast of what’s going on in the field,” Susan Ballati, vice president for strategic planning and development for The MIND Institute (Albuquerque, New Mexico), told MDD. “The field of neuroscience and neurotechnology is a broad umbrella. There’s the pharmaceutical side of things, the device side of things, the research side, and the clinical side. So this sort of wide rubric, or umbrella, is a place where we will be able to interact with others that are like us or similar to us and those who are different.”

Ballati said The MIND Institute, a non-profit neuroscience research center and a founding member of NIO, is excited about the new organization.

“The time is right for something like this,” Ballati said.

Representing a broad spectrum of companies involved in neurotechnology, neuroscience research centers and brain disease advocacy groups, NIO began accepting members Aug. 1.

Its mission is to accelerate cures for brain and nervous system diseases by promoting the industry’s progress, advocating the industry’s position to government officials and providing business development services to its members.

As managing director of NeuroInsights (San Francisco, California) – a company that tracks the neurotechnology industry and provides analysis, conferences and advisory services – Lynch said he saw a need for a unified voice for the commercial neuroscience community.

“I really noticed that although they’re all focused on the brain and nervous system they’re really fragmented in their ability to push forward a cohesive agenda so we created NIO to act as an umbrella for the neurotechnology industry,” Lynch told MDD.

The neurotechnology field is one that is close to Lynch personally, he said, because he has a family history of brain/nervous system related illnesses.

Lynch didn’t want to elaborate about his own accomplishments in the field, but he is known, according to NeuroInsights, as an economic and social forecaster who advises organizations on the impact of neurotechnology on businesses, government and society. He also is the publisher of the company’s monthly investor newsletter, Neurotech Insights and is the editor of Brain Waves, a blog providing commentary on the intersection of neuroscience and society.

Because brain complexity makes neuroscience research longer and more expensive, Lynch said NIO is pushing for an R&D tax credit as well as lobbying for expanded government funding.

More than 1.5 billion people worldwide and nearly 100 million Americans suffer from a brain or nervous system illness, according to NIO.

The organization also notes that in 2005 the neurotechnology industry generated $110 billion and includes more than 450 companies working on new treatments for needs ranging from anxiety and depression to Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.

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