US-based Butterfly Network and Forest Neurotech have inked a five-year co-development agreement to develop next-generation whole-brain brain computer interfaces (BCIs) using the former’s proprietary Ultrasound-on-Chip technology.

Butterfly Network provides portable, semiconductor-based ultrasound technology and intuitive software.

On the other hand, Forest Neurotech is a deep tech research firm, which is developing a minimally invasive brain imaging and stimulation device using ultrasound.

Under the deal, the deep tech research firm will pay $20m to Butterfly Network for yearly licensing, chip buying, services, and milestone payments, of which $3.5m was given on signing.

Butterfly Network said that additional revenue is also expected for every unit sold upon commercialisation.

Forest Neurotech co-founder and chief technology officer Will Biederman said: “We are thrilled to embark on this journey with Butterfly Network, whose unique Ultrasound-on-Chip technology is key to enabling our novel approach to minimally invasive brain imaging and stimulation.

“Our shared passion for innovation and semiconductor-enabled healthcare technologies makes Butterfly the perfect match to enable our vision of developing the world’s first implanted, whole-brain neural interface.”

The deal comes after Butterfly Network’s August 2023 announcement of the launch of the Butterfly Garden artificial intelligence (AI) marketplace. The launch is aimed at fostering partnerships with medical device companies, AI firms, and software developers interested in creating innovative applications by using its imaging platform.

Butterfly Network’s Ultrasound-on-Chip technology is said to be suitable for a range of ultrasonic sensing use cases, including possible implantables.

The technology is designed to function at a broad range of frequencies, has high programming flexibility, and is small in size, the ultrasound technology provider said.

Butterfly Network president, CEO, and chairman Joseph DeVivo said: “Forest Neurotech is an exemplary partner that validates the vision behind Butterfly Garden.

“We opened our imaging platform for co-development to encourage and expedite innovation that captures the full potential of Butterfly’s disruptive chip technology through new applications and in adjacent markets.”