VDP-135 VitaDAO Project Phase Out Protocol

One-liner: Builder Squad proposal for phasing out VitaDAO funded academic projects and spinouts.

Builder Squad Team

Anthony Schwartz, Eleanor Davies, Eli Mohamad

Simple Summary

VitaDAO will have evaluated more than 200 projects by December 2023. Out of those, 22 were funded, of which there are 7 academic projects and spinouts. These entities are managed by the VitaDAO Builder Squad.

The project evaluation and project management processes are well established, and have been voted in through DAO governance, entrusting the Builder Squad with some of the most commercially promising ones. The purpose of this proposal is to define the protocol for projects where it has been established the DAO wishes to discontinue support and/or funding.


VitaDAO is committed to funding and building projects with the potential for commercial viability. As the DAO has matured, so have its projects. Most projects are funded in milestones, with each milestone requiring a review of progress and data by the Builder Squad. Further financing is approved following a positive review.

In the natural course of scientific research and development, some projects will present negative data, therefore triggering a negative review. These projects will need to be phased out as soon as possible to preserve VitaDAO’s treasury.

The VitaDAO Builder Squad therefore, requires a standard operating procedure (SOP) to phase out projects in an efficient way, preserving the relationships with the researchers and academic institutions involved.

As per the current Builder Squad process, the following stakeholders are involved in the management of a funded academic project or spinout:

The Project Investigator (PI)

The PI is the representative of the team of researchers implementing the project, which in most of our projects is extramural.

Builder Squad

This is a small team of Builder Squad members assisting the Project Lead in managing the project. It includes other Builders, the Project Lead, as well as the Squad Lead.

Project Lead (PL)

The PL is the single individual within VitaDAO responsible for the project outcomes. This individual serves as the first point of contact for the researcher, and represents VitaDAO. The PL reports directly to VitaCORE.

Builder Squad Lead (SL)

The Builder Squad Lead is the senior individual involved in coordinating and assisting all projects the Squad is tasked with managing.


The following process is currently implemented:

  1. The PL and Builder Squad review the project reports and updates once a milestone and/or when an anticipated project phase completion date has occurred, as per the project proposal.
  2. Using data provided by the PI, published literature and expert reviews, the team will make an internal decision whether the PI has met its milestone(s) to support additional funding.
  3. If the PL determines the milestones have been met, the next tranche of funding will be unlocked

If the project reaches a no-go inflection point (i.e. has generated negative data, has not met its milestones), the Builder Squad proposes the following:

  1. The PL will meet with the PI to discuss ways to amend the project path, and possibly move the project forward.
  2. The PI will be asked to write a project continuation proposal, which will be shared with the Builder Squad.
  3. The Builder Squad will review the proposal and the PL will determine if the newly amended path will suffice to move the project forward.

If the project continuation proposal is insufficient, the Builder Squad proposes the following:

  1. The PL will document their position with the PI in a phase-out proposal, using the dataset, scientific arguments and explanations for each milestone that is believed not to have been met.
  2. The project phase-out proposal, dataset, and the PI’s continuation proposal will be sent to 3-5 Senior Reviewers that have expertise in the scientific and commercial aspects of the project.
  3. The PL will present the materials to VitaCore and the SAB
  4. If VitaCore and the SAB agree with the project phase-out proposal, funding will be phased out
  5. If VitaCore and the SAB determine project milestones have been met, the PL will approve the continuation of financing for the project as per the original project proposal.
  6. If VitaCore and the SAB decide that project milestones have not been met, but the project continuation proposal is sufficient to amend the project path and achieve the initially proposed milestones, the Builder Squad will work with the PI to create a project amendment without any original budget changes, to be presented to VitaCORE and the SAB.
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  • Revisions Requested [Details in Comments]
0 voters

Congrats @aschwartzphd for your first proposal :slight_smile:

This proposal takes into account my preliminary comments to the draft, but I think the process could be leaner and framed into a milestone management process (which I forgot to include in VDP-102!). I meant to propose how to do this based on experience in other organizations, but it took me longer than expected.

Here we go, for future projects:

  • Project proposals should include milestones, with pass/fail criteria as objective as possible, and consequences of passing/failing a milestone, including payments or project continuation. This is difficult in practice but worth taking the time to do.

  • When a proposal passes, the contract between VitaDAO and the funded entity should be compliant with the proposal and include dispositions in case of disagreement among the parties

  • During project execution, a review is foreseen for each milestone, where the funded entity shall provide the associated deliverable and present it to the VitaDAO project lead and experts. The deliverable should be provided at least a week in advance of the presentation. Experts would be order of 3 and come from builder squad, the senior reviewers pool, the SAB, or could be externals with specific expertise.

  • During or after the review, based on the contractual criteria and with the technical support of the experts, the project lead would declare the milestone pass or fail or would propose corrective actions (conditional pass), then communicate the decision to the PI and trigger the applicable contractual events

  • In case of disagreement between VitaDAO or the funded entity that cannot be solved at project lead level, the conflict would be solved based on contractual dispositions, including setting up an independent board, with the support of the builder squad lead, escalating to VitaCORE if needed.

This systematic process could be applied or adapted for already funded projects, on a case by case basis, enforcing contractual dispositions. For example, if a milestone was evaluated and considered failed by a majority of experts, the project lead would be empowered to share the outcome with the PI and proceed as per the contract.


This looks great

Only one thing I do not see anywhere a definition of SAB