On January 30, VitaDAO, a longevity start-up company on the DeSci track, announced that it had completed the financing of $4.1 million.
The financing parties include Balaji Srinivasan, the former chief technology officer of Coinbase, and Pfizer Ventures, the investment arm of Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company. first investment. VitaDAO will use the funds to further fund longevity research projects and biotech startups that will be spun off from the DAO next year. Affected by the news, the VitaDAO governance token VITA rose by 60% in a short period of time.
DeSci (Decentralized Science) is an initiative to build a public infrastructure to fund, create, review, credit, store and disseminate scientific knowledge fairly and equitably using Web3 (tools including NFTs, smart contracts and DAOs).
DeSci aspires to provide an environment where researchers are encouraged to freely share their work and earn credit while making it simple for anybody to access it and contribute to it. Decentralized Science is based on the premise that all people should have access to scientific information and that scientific research should be conducted in a transparent manner.
The scientific research paradigm being developed by DeSci is more decentralized and dispersed, making it more resistant to censorship and government control. By decentralizing access to money, scientific resources, and communication channels, DeSci aims to foster an atmosphere conducive to the development of novel and innovative ideas.
It is working to create a community where anyone can easily share their scientific work, as well as access other members’ research and contribute to it. Importantly, decentralized science aims to give a distributed scientific research paradigm that is censorship-resistant as well as more varied financing sources.
(To learn more about this topic, you can refer to Coincu’s article here)
Although mankind has experienced a wave of exponential technological development in the past two hundred years, in reality, there are still various barriers to access to funds and information. The combination of technology and Web3 may be one of the ways to solve pain points. Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin also talked about using quadratic financing and DAO tools like VitaDAO to fund and organize scientific projects in a show about decentralized science.
This article will take VitaDAO as an example to start from the field of biotechnology and briefly analyze the field of DeSci.
For a long time, many biotechnology organizations can only obtain financing through traditional channels such as equity financing, bank loans, and government funding. However, due to the cumbersome R&D procedures of most biotechnology start-up companies or organizations, even if the organization finally succeeds, it will take a long cycle time.
If the economy is booming, financing institutions will maintain enough patience and even boldly invest in some risky start-up companies with only concepts and no products. The poor performance of “Sister Wood” Cathie Wood’s biotechnology fund ARKG in 2022 further proves that capital restricts scientific development. Many companies in this field can only survive by reducing expenditures through layoffs and reducing development costs. This will hinder the development of the industry.
In the past year, VitaDAO has funded more than 15 projects researching aging diseases with a total amount of more than $3.5 million, and these biotechnology companies or organizations trying to raise funds in the Web3 field can be said to be a huge innovation.
On the one hand, it can be reflected in the change of financing channels. Startups can obtain financing by obtaining a majority of votes from token holders through the DAO organization. VitaDAO funds startups through traditional equity or by issuing and selling NFTs designed to represent intellectual property. In return for research funding, DAO members become co-owners of the intellectual property generated by the research.
Moreover, it is to improve the research status of unpopular projects. In the past, the research direction could only be determined by the capital of the institution, and it is more inclined to fund projects with a short R&D cycle or high influence, so some unpopular but potentially disruptive research and development will be hindered. The situation will improve.
Today’s scientific information export or access restrictions can largely be attributed to the monopoly of information data by enterprises and governments, similar to HowNet and Elsevier‘s payment threshold blocking people’s access, while the government may conduct political interference in scientific information. Dampen people’s enthusiasm for acquiring or exporting knowledge.
The decentralized model not only lowers the barriers to entry for organizations but also reduces the difficulty for individuals to output or obtain professional information, helping to eliminate information islands.
First, the emergence of DeSci can help remove the middleman between scientific researchers and reviewers, making knowledge transfer more inclusive. When information is no longer monopolized, not only professionals in related fields will benefit, but even amateurs who have not studied related fields can also obtain information, which further promotes equal rights in knowledge.
Secondly, community incentives will also promote the positive output of information. VitaDAO will not only give certain VITA token incentives to researchers and working groups who contribute data or professional knowledge but also provide additional governance authority. In addition, using the anti-censorship feature of blockchain and decentralized storage technology, scientists or specific communities can truly own scientific data.
In the past, we could only see DeSci appearing more in the field of academic research and publishing, while VitaDAO and Mantis Photonics conducted clinical trials, obtained new data from Morten Scheibye-Knudsen‘s laboratory at the University of Copenhagen, and Victor Korolchuk’s laboratory at Newcastle University, etc. The application scenarios of DeSci bring the development of DeSci to the next stage.
With the expansion of DeSci organizations such as VitaDAO, Antidote DAO, and Dynamicculture, we will not only see further expansion of the scene in the future but also have the opportunity to see cross-border and cross-academic cooperation projects. Similar to the Covid-19 vaccine that can benefit the whole world, the project that cannot be shared due to various factors may have a breakthrough in the future.
To be clear, DeSci is still in its infancy, and there are still general questions in the field, “Whose interests will DeSci ultimately serve?” and “Does DeSci lack a clear set of shared values?” And the most thought-provoking of these questions is, what is the ultimate purpose of people building DeSci?
As cognitive neuroscientist Sarah Hamburg puts it, DeSci is simply a tool for science, allowing scientists to seamlessly integrate it into their daily work. DeSci should focus on empowering scientists to do good science and get back to science rather than drawing too much attention to these new tools themselves, making them a financial product of hype to be exploited.
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