Today VitaDAO announced it raised $4.1m in tokens from Pfizer Ventures, Shine Capital, L1 Digital and several other web3 and decentralised science organizations. One of its investors is Balaji Srinivasan former Coinbase CTO and a16z partner. VitaDAO, as its name implies, is structured as a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) where token holders vote on its governance and the project it funds. It aims to help biotech startups find funding, particularly for longevity research.
One example of the sort of project that VitaDAO funds is €30,000 for Mantis Photonics. It is developing a hyperspectral camera to enable Alzheimer’s to be screened early through retinal scans before the onset of symptoms. A key feature of Alzheimer’s is Amyloid beta plaque which builds up in the brain. Recent studies indicate that these plaques appear on the retina before the cognitive decline is noticed.
To date, VitaDAO says it has funded $3.5m in research. Apart from providing financing, the intellectual property (IP) from research is tokenized on blockchain by VitaDAO as IP-NFTs. And it spins out new biotech companies.
On Linkedin, Michael Baran, a partner at Pfizer Ventures, wrote today, “VitaDAO is essentially an accelerator which aims to bridge the Valley (of) Death between academic/seed stage biotech and commercialization. Our interest lies not only in validation of this novel model, but also as a tool to identify and derisk early stage projects in age related disease.”
Apart from funding, VitaDAO described Pfizer’s role as including dealflow, scientific evaluation, incubation, and commercialization.
In August last year, Pfizer submitted a proposal to the governance of VitaDAO to commit $500,000. Pfizer described VitaDAO as “democratizing longevity scientific development and ultimately bringing medicines to patients. Additionally, the Decentralized Science (DeSci) movement also represents a nascent opportunity to transform the traditional business of science via the convergence of cutting-edge science, business, law, and tech.”
It added, “We are highly intrigued by the scientific reach of VitaDAO and the democratized governance enabled by the DAO approach. Funding early-stage IP development is a phase of drug development that is historically under-funded by government grants, VC investments, and other traditional funding vehicles.”