Pfizer Ventures backs decentralized science startup in $4.1 million round

VitaDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization that funds research projects in the field of longevity science, closed a $4.1 million raise. 

The venture arm of Pfizer invested in the token round alongside Shine Capital, L1 Digital and Balaji Srinivasan among others, according to a press release. The round closed this month, said Ion. 

This is Pfizer’s first investment in the web3 space, said VitaDAO’s so-called dealflow steward Laurence Ion in an interview with The Block. He said that the firm, which holds vita governance tokens through a special purpose vehicle, has even taken part in governance proposals. News of the funding round follows Pfizer’s previously-announced commitment of $500,000 to VitaDAO.

VitaDAO is part of a nascent movement known as decentralized science (DeSci). In place of the current science ecosystem that relies on centralized bodies of research and funding, DeSci aims to source funding for research through crowdfunding and to decentralize ownership. 

“DeSci is just a way to bottom-up design better science without all the centralization and bogged-down control of governments and big institutions,” Ion explained. 

Crowdfunded science

Projects are funded through traditional equity means or via non-fungible tokens intended to represent intellectual property. These rely on technology from a closely associated project named Molecule, which allows researchers to list NFT projects on its marketplace. In June last year, Molecule raised $13 million in seed funding. 

The projects funded by VitaDAO primarily focus on longevity and the aging process. It has backed Turn Biotechnologies, a Stanford University spinout that produces mRNA medicines, and a University of Copenhagen study on understanding the impact of medicinal drugs on the aging process. 

The project aims to use the funding to further finance longevity research projects and the biotech startups that are set to spin out from the DAO in the coming year. 

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