Pfizer-backed decentralized cooperative raises $4.1M to fund longevity research
Months after Pfizer Ventures put a decentralized cooperative on the map by announcing a $500,000 infusion into its mission of funding human longevity research, the group — VitaDAO — is tying the bow around a $4.1 million fundraising round.
As its name implies, VitaDAO calls itself a DAO, or decentralized autonomous organization. Like many other such groups, it aims to run on a relatively flat, global structure using contracts on blockchains and crypto-tied tokens in hopes of proving a new way to fund big ideas and bridge the valley of death for very early-stage research on anti-aging.
The goal at VitaDAO, according to Laurence Ion, dealflow steward, is to work with scientists to test their ideas and get in on potentially valuable intellectual property pre-seed, or even pre-startup — helping push those projects along and reap the benefits if they pay off, such as by selling the IP to a venture investor or holding equity in a biotech spinout.
Scientists can apply for funding by submitting proposals on its website. While a core team and a network of experts would vet the proposals, the decisions to invest are ultimately put to a vote by all token holders in the 9,000-strong community, according to Ion (and that includes Pfizer). Pfizer previously noted that it sees itself as both a stakeholder and a potential acquirer of future IP.
So far, VitaDAO has directed about $3 million to multiple research projects, with ticket sizes ranging from $250,000 to $1 million.
“The thing is that 250k is quite a lot for doing some killer experiments,” Ion said.
In a lot of ways, it’s not unlike academic grants — but Ion said VitaDAO’s process promises to be more efficient, with clinical translation rather than knowledge finding as its main mission.
Everyone who’s involved in reviewing the projects would get paid in either cash or VitaDAO tokens, which they could sell in secondary crypto exchanges, he added.
Aside from Pfizer Ventures, Shine Capital and LI Digital also joined the round, alongside fellow decentralized science organizations Beaker DAO and Spaceship DAO; other individual longevity enthusiasts are also pitching in, including Balaji Srinivasan, general partner at a16z and former CTO of Coinbase, and Retro Biosciences CEO Joe Betts-LaCroix.