VitaDAO is using DAO tokens to raise and govern the allocation of capital, together with NFTs that represent IP rights, as a novel Regenerative Finance (ReFi) mechanism to advance Decentralised Science (DeSci), for the good of humanity.

2 years ago   •   5 min read

By Romain NEBOIT

The purpose of VitaDAO is to accelerate research into human longevity, with patients and researchers as the primary stakeholders.

Historically, Big Pharma and Commercial Research Institutions have not represented these groups well. Biomedical research fundraising is time-consuming and has in the past mostly been directed to selected groups of already well-funded organisations.

There is a misalignment of incentives that encourage profit maximisation by for-profit biopharma companies, and conversely, not enough goal-oriented work is done by non-profit research organisations.

VitaDAO fixes this by coordinating and decentralising how research gets funded and implemented to empower more independent researchers, in the hope this will give more people access to better pharmaceutical products.

Early-stage biopharma research is what advances innovation in medicine. However, many domains of biopharma research are chronically under-funded. The way commercialisation of pharmaceutical innovation works (primarily driven by corporate profit incentives) also prevents many innovations from reaching patients. Independent researchers face challenges in the legal complexity of creating IP, illiquidity of IP assets, and research costs of developing IP.

Molecule sees a world in which researchers get access to an open marketplace that makes novel research and IP discoverable, universally fundable and distributes ownership.

Nevermined provides a data-sharing platform that entirely changes how the data rights relating to IP.

The world’s first enterprise-grade unstoppable data sharing ecosystem - Nevermined

Overcoming the Valley of Death

Early-stage research is plagued by the Valley of Death – the period during which funding is hard to obtain for high-risk experimentation with new molecules or therapeutic approaches, so many promising pharmaceutical discoveries never make it to market.

Molecule combines legal agreements, such as IP licenses, with the novel technology of NFTs linked to decentralised, secure data storage networks. By ledgering ownership rights on Ethereum,  Molecule is building a marketplace for connecting researchers to capital, biopharma research data, and communities of patients. Researchers and biotechs list their projects and discoveries, receive funding through the DAO, and can connect directly with patients.

“IP NFTs could effectively replace patent models and become new value drivers thanks to Nevermined’s data storage frameworks. We hope to enable a myriad of use cases like this, first focusing on longevity and mental health and then broadly becoming a sort of “OpenSea” for Biotech NFTs that helps empower new research organizations like VitaDAO.” –Paul Kohlhaas (Molecule co-founder)

The VitaDAO “Decentralized Autonomous Organization” collectively funds early longevity research using funding contributions from its participants.

In June 2021, VitaDAO raised $5 million from hundreds of individuals via a Gnosis batch auction – placing the organization directly into the hands of its community. It is on a mission to finance the most promising longevity research endeavors and decentralize its ownership.

Non-fungible Life

The complex requirements for storing, transferring and accessing IP-related files require more than a standard NFT. Nevermined implemented its Access Control module to create NFTs on steroids with Molecule. These novel NFTs enable the transacting parties to engage with the underlying protected research data via federated access control. This use case has a wide range of applications in the pharmaceutical industry.

The current drug development system reflects an anti-competitive incentive structure and neglects the potential to repurpose existing therapies. Novel mechanisms for funding the repurposing of existing treatments will leverage existing solutions to target emerging threats faster and at a fraction of the cost.
FRENS is a novel fractionalized IP-NFT sublicensing system to help make drug development more like software development.

Fair & Reasonable

The FRENS token is a license that provides its owner the right to market the IP. ‘Fair’ refers to the terms of the license, and ‘reasonable’ refers to the price of the license. The terms can’t be anti-competitive, which, in this case, means the parent IP owner can’t prevent the license holder from marketing the IP.

This is reflected at the time of the auction when the FRENS token price must be reasonable compared to the price of the parent IP-NFT. For example, an IP-NFT has an established market value of $100,000, and there are 100 FRENS tokens issued. At the auction, the FRENS tokens would have a price of $100,000 / 100 = $1,000 each — representing a reasonable relationship with the parent IP-NFT.

DeSci is for the people, so these ‘end-user rights’ to market the IP are constrained to natural persons (human beings) and not legal persons (corporations). More technically, the ‘use’ and marketing rights (under, e.g., 35 USC 271) can be constrained to human beings and not legal persons, along with the pricing of FRENS tokens that comports with traditional F/RAND terms.

Owning a FRENS token gives the owner governance rights to determine how others receive payments from owners of the parent IP. For example, one FRENS token holder may elect to vote that indigenous groups receive payments, while another might elect for researchers of a rare disease would receive payments. This can be thought of as a pay-it-forward condition.

If a bad actor is deemed as operating in violation of the FRENS terms, their license is revoked. If an unethical actor such as a patent troll tries capitalizing on the IP by using it as a weapon to stifle innovation, the IP automatically flips to open source to prevent unethical exploitation. In more technical terms, FRENS confers governance rights to vote on ethical encumbrances that should attach to the parent IP NFT upon any transfer of ownership or commercial license. This includes springing commercial licenses that open-source the IP to prevent a non-practicing entity (NPE), i.e., patent troll, from capitalising on it. This provision also introduces third-party beneficiary standing to enforce the ethical encumbrances.

FRENS are DeSci assets for the people. FRENS tokens are available to any human, regardless of their status. In addition, FRENS are available to corporate interests, provided they elect to operate under the ethical restrictions of the FRENS terms. This creates a level playing ground for both corporate and individual FRENS-owners.

In more technical terms, this includes any corporation willing to accept the ethical encumbrances, where non-discriminatory is used in the traditional sense. Alternatively, FRENS can be culturally non-discriminatory, restricted to only humans, so that FRENS holders can be any human, anywhere, but no corporations. Whether to allow corporations depends on what the IP-NFT and FRENS token-holders decide.

Earth State Changing

VitaDAO has already used Molecule’s protocol and IP NFT framework to acquire IP resulting from longevity research that is being conducted at the Danish Scheibye-Knudsen Lab, with rights transferred to the participants in VitaDAO.

Members can join VitaDAO by purchasing VITA tokens  or earning them through contributions of work or Intellectual Property.

VitaDAO is democratising democracy, and leading the way in demonstrating how ReFi can be used to benefit humanity.


Not financial or tax advice. This article is striclty educational and is not investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any assets or to make any financial decisions. For tax advice talk to your accountant.DYOR – do your own research.

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