SCI Ventures Launches Venture Philanthropy Fund to Accelerate Restorative Treatments for Spinal Cord Injury and a Cure for Paralysis

Global early-stage fund to catalyze development of the next generation of treatments

Backers include the leading spinal cord injury foundations in the U.S., U.K., and EU

NEW YORK and LONDON, June 10, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — SCI Ventures, a new venture philanthropy vehicle dedicated to funding and commercializing innovative treatments for spinal cord injury, today announced the launch of its first fund. SCI Ventures’ mission is to advance breakthroughs for people living with paralysis by supporting promising cure-oriented therapies and emerging technologies. The fund launches with $27 million in commitments and anticipates raising $40 million by year-end. 

Spinal cord injury (“SCI”) affects more than 15 million people globally, and options to address the dramatic impact on their quality of life are currently limited.1 Beyond the loss of movement, paralysis impacts bowel, bladder and sexual functions—and comes with massive financial costs. SCI is one of the most expensive medical conditions to manage: average lifetime costs range from $2.9 million for paraplegia and up to $6 million for high tetraplegia.2

SCI Ventures is led by a team of professionals with expertise in venture capital, technology, and science with deep personal connections to the cause and it’s advised by world-class neuroscientists. By serving as an early-stage investor with extensive sector expertise, SCI Ventures aims to catalyze funding for the SCI space. There are many commonalities between spinal cord injuries and adjacent conditions such as stroke and neurodegenerative disorders. Therefore, SCI Ventures is confident the technologies backed by the Fund will yield high impact beyond the SCI community.

The launch of SCI Ventures marks the first time that five of the leading foundations addressing spinal cord injury in the U.S., U.K. and EU have come together in support of a novel investment vehicle. Co-Founders are the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Wings for Life, the International Spinal Research Trust (“Spinal Research”), the Promobilia Foundation and Shepherd Center. The venture philanthropy fund model was pioneered in SCI by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, which led SCI Ventures’ first investments in the technology company ONWARD® Medical and AXONIS Therapeutics. SCI Ventures is building on this progress and industrializing the model.

“Recent scientific and technological advancements have made recovery from paralysis a real possibility for the first time in history. However, while treatments to restore function for people with spinal cord injury have shown promise in lab settings, transferring these treatments to clinical settings remains a stubborn barrier,” said Adrien Cohen, Founding Managing Director of SCI Ventures.

“We’re bridging that gap by providing financial and operational support to promising early-stage companies. As an expert investor, we plan to attract more capital to the SCI space by lowering the investment risk through the combined network and knowledge of our backing foundations,” he added.

SCI Ventures is an independently managed fund focusing on seed and Series A financing rounds. It will redeploy 100% of its investment gains into additional companies working toward the mission to cure paralysis. SCI Ventures plans to support up to 20 companies and has already established a growing portfolio of investments, including:

  • ONWARD® Medical, which provides targeted stimulation of the spinal cord to restore movement and other functions, alone or in combination with brain-computer interface (BCI) technology for thought-driven movement
  • AXONIS Therapeutics, which focuses on advancing drug discoveries for neuron revival and neuromodulation
  • Sania Therapeutics, a gene therapy company that can selectively target dysfunctional neural circuits, starting with spasticity
  • AUGMENTAL, which is developing the MouthPad^: an in-mouth interface for hands-free human-computer interaction

“We’re proud to continue innovating and leading in our shared mission to restore function to people with spinal cord injuries and eventually cure paralysis,” said Maggie Goldberg, President and CEO of the Reeve Foundation. “SCI Ventures is a unique model and an opportunity to bring together leaders from across the SCI and paralysis fields to offer resources and expertise that, when combined, can create lasting, positive impact.”

“We have experienced first-hand the immense challenges people with paralysis face each day, so Wings for Life is incredibly proud to be a co-founding member of SCI Ventures and an enabler of breakthrough treatments,” said Anita Gerhardter, Global CEO of Wings for Life. “We see great potential in the emerging companies in SCI Ventures’ portfolio, and we are more confident than ever that people who are injured today will be the first generation that does not have to live with paralysis for the rest of their lives.” 

About SCI Ventures

SCI Ventures is the first venture philanthropy fund focused on innovative therapies for people living with paralysis. Co-founded by leading global foundations and advised by world class neuroscientists, SCI Ventures aims to catalyze the development of the next generation of treatments with an emphasis on technology to restore function and cure-oriented therapies. The fund shares the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt registration of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. To learn more about SCI Ventures, please visit Follow us on LinkedIn here.

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