Elon Musk’s Neuralink, a US-based brain chip startup, has secured $280m in a Series D funding round from investors to further develop its brain implant technology.

The financing round was led by Founders Fund, a San Fransisco-based venture capital company backed by billionaire Peter Thiel. This follows a Series C round announced in July 2021 in which the startup raked in $205m.

Neuralink is engaged in the development of implantable brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), which are designed to facilitate direct communication between the brain and external devices such as computers.

The brain chip firm announced the funding via a post on Musk’s social media site X, formerly known as Twitter.

In a tweet on X, Neuralink said: “We’re happy to announce our $280M Series D round led by @foundersfund. We’re extremely excited about this next chapter at Neuralink.”

As per Reuters, the startup did not disclose the valuation at which the funds were secured.

The company also did not specify how the funds will be utilised. However, its plans are to help those with paralysis or other neurological problems to regain autonomy by using their brain activity to command computers and mobile devices.

The use of animals in the testing of Neuralink’s technology has been a subject of controversy for the company.

In 2022, staff members at Neuralink informed Reuters that Musk was exerting pressure on them to hasten and potentially compromise procedures involving monkeys, pigs, and sheep to secure approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, this led to a higher number of animal fatalities than deemed necessary, as reported by the publication.

In May this year, US legislators requested regulators to initiate an investigation into the committee responsible for overseeing animal experimentation protocols within the company.

The startup gained FDA approval in the same month to begin the first-in-human (FIH) clinical trial of brain implants.

In June, the BCI startup announced that the company is expecting to start the first human trial of brain implants this year.