18th August 2021, Basel, Switzerland — For the first time in history, NFTs are being used for a transfer of IP ownership in medical research. This unique milestone is a result of a partnership between biopharma IP marketplace Molecule, and VitaDAO, a decentralized collective (DAO) funding longevity research, and the University of Copenhagen. This innovation is enabled by a groundbreaking data storage solution developed by web3 technology innovator Nevermined.
VitaDAO, Nevermined and Molecule Overcome Biopharma Industry Challenges
Early-stage biopharma research is the lifeblood that fuels advances in medicine. However, many domains in biopharma suffer from chronic underfunding or commercialisation challenges that prevent innovation from reaching patients. Legal complexity, illiquidity of IP assets and lack of access to investors contribute to the problem for researchers.
By applying Web3 technology, Molecule is enabling a world where researchers get access to an open marketplace that makes novel research and IP discoverable, universally fundable and distributes ownership. Nevermined’s data storage and access control frameworks create entirely new ways of how the data rights surrounding this IP can be transacted with and accessed.
VitaDAO recently became the first benefactor of this advancement. The collective used Molecule’s protocol and IP NFT framework to acquire IP resulting from longevity research run at the Danish Scheibye-Knudsen Lab and transferred ownership to VitaDAO.
Molecule CEO Paul Kohlhaas stated:
“This NFT transfers marks a historic milestone for both the NFT and biopharma space. It’s the first time real-world pharma IP is transacted on a blockchain, while also moving into custodianship of a DAO.”
Combining Legal Frameworks with Web3 Interoperability
The early-stage research phase is plagued by a phenomenon coined the Valley of Death – where funding is hard to obtain, meaning many promising discoveries never make it to market. Molecule is building a marketplace for biopharma IP.
A specialised technical framework combines legal agreements such as IP licenses with the novel technology of NFTs and decentralised secure data storage networks that are coupled with the NFT. By ledgering ownership rights on Ethereum, Molecule is building a marketplace for liquid biopharma research data and IP via NFTs. Researchers and biotechs list their projects and discoveries, receive funding via DeFi and can connect directly with patients. Paul Kohlhaas added:
“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.”
Simultaneously, new vehicles to collaborate and fund research are forming in the web3 space. VitaDAO is a “Decentralised Autonomous Organisation” that collectively funds early longevity research projects via its community contributors. In June 2021, it raised $5 million from hundreds of individuals via a Gnosis batch auction – placing the organisation directly into the hands of its community. Now it is on a mission to finance the most promising longevity research endeavours and decentralise their ownership.
Want to Live Forever? There’s an NFT for That
The complex requirements for storing, transferring and accessing IP-related files require more than just 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.
Nevermind CTO Aitor Argomániz stated:
“Access Control allows creators and owners of digital assets to attach conditions to an NFT. Think of things like pricing, verified users, privacy parameters, etc.. At the same time, it acts as a Gateway to guarantee that only parties that fulfill certain conditions can get access to the underlying documents.”
The module is also cross-tech-compatible. This allows apps to make secure, critical connections between Ethereum, the cloud (e.g AWS) and decentralised hosting (e.g Arweave). This is the only way to guarantee a Certificate of Authenticity with permanence, traceability and privacy built-in..