VDP-147: Catalyst Beta Program: Funding Experiment for Longevity Research Moonshots

One-liner: Allocate up to $100k to fund early-stage longevity research moonshots through Catalyst.

Team: @alexdobrin , @tylergolato , @vincent, @timrpeterson

Objective: Collaborate with Catalyst to fund and accelerate high-potential longevity research moonshots, turning successfully funded projects into IPTs.

VitaDAO gets access to potential moonshot projects and the opportunity to direct Catalyst in finding projects of interest. Through Catalyst, it gains projects with early funder engagement that can potentially become part of the VitaDAO community.

There’s no downside, only upside. The $100k won’t be locked for Catalyst, the VitaDAO community will ultimately decide if they want to pursue funding the projects found.

VitaDAO tries multiple ways of reaching the mandate goal in order it makes sure it reached 10 IPTs by 2025


Catalyst connects researchers, biotech experts, and funders to advance translational research. This collaboration aims to support longevity research, bridging the gap from academic research to market-ready health solutions. This initiative aligns with VitaDAO’s mandate to fund 10 IPTs during 2024-2025.

Project Details:

Funding Amount: Up to $100,000

Research Focus: Early-stage longevity research

Expected Outcomes: Fund up to 3 high-potential projects with expert guidance and funder engagement.

Implementation Plan:

Sourcing Projects: Catalyst will source projects, and VitaDAO can request specific types or submit suggestions.

Funding Approval: When a project meets the funding criteria, the team will make a governance proposal for VitaDAO tokenholders to approve the funding.

Conclusion:This collaboration with the Catalyst Beta Program will significantly contribute to VitaDAO’s mission by funding promising early-stage projects, experimenting with web3 ways of funding and sourcing science like Catalyst.

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Very excited for this to potentially help with scaling the dealflow and sourcing of novel research for VitaDAO!!


Will Catalyst get a cut for sourcing projects?

How are people going to know to use catalyst instead of research hub or some other option?


Great Initiative and I think VitaDAO should be doing more of this.

Whats the reasoning for only $100K and 3 projects?

I’d like to suggest $300k and a goal of 10 projects.

My reasoning for this is that hopefully these ideas, while 8/10 will fail, create a pipeline of moonshots for VitaDAO to fund via IPTs. Hence more shots on to the moon are advisable.


I believe Molecule will get a cut off the projects in the same way that OpenSea or Stripe gets a cut of transactions on their platform.

ResearchHub or seemingly no other platform has the tokenomics embedded in it like Catalyst does. I’m pretty excited to see how this plays out. I think it has the potential to cover the valley of death and let market forces rather than the binary decision making that accompanies most other funding sources.

@tylergolato or @benji can correct me if i’ve misspoken about anything on their platform.


I agree with Max. Perhaps $200K could be a good compromise?


@alexdobrin to better reply to @bowtiedshrike, it would be good to explain more in the post how Catalyst works, and what it’s strengths (and limitations) are. @benji can you help here please?


Thanks everyone for your comments.

Our proposed business model for Catalyst is charging a 5% fee on funds raised. These fees will be used to provide liquidity for projects once IPTs are minted.

Research Hub is primarily to improve grant funding. Our goal is not only to provide funding but to give rights back to the funders (w/IPTs). Also, Research Hub raises funds with RSC - Catalyst will provide funding in ETH / USD.


Great initiative.

One thing - at least in Europe, most of the funds go towards the salary. So maybe if the funding goes to a lab which already has the man power, more % of the funding would go to the experiments themselves?

Anyway, I support:)


Salary is the killer everywhere, even though in academia salaries are 50-75% discounted relative to industry.

Mouse costs come next.

This all assumes the funder has a strict F&A policy to keep the university from eating all your direct costs. 60-80% taxes to the university on your funding is not fun.


As always, thank you, Alex, for your great proposals. There is a lot to be excited about with this one.
I myself already have a couple of projects that I am happy to refer to Catalyst so that they can raise funds to define some aspects that, as of now, make it difficult for VitaDAO to invest in e.g. defining the target, assessing whether a correlation is a causation, etc)

Here are my questions
• How is a moonshot defined? If it is the standard “high-risk, high potential” project, who will measure and quantify risk and how? And who will measure potential, and how will it be quantified?
o I find the word “moonshot” abused in DAOs, and it is often used to qualify what is actually “moonshit” that are high-risk low-potential projects – so would like to understand how we will make sure that we are funding actual “moonshots”?
• What does the early stage mean on the TRL scale? Would it be at least TRL3 as for VitaDAO, or would it be even earlier?
o I would love to see it even earlier because I have seen a lot of interesting projects that unfortunately fail because of scientific viability, and if VitaDAO can find a way to fund these through Catalyst, I think it would be great
• What is it meant by expert guidance and funder engagement? Would it be VitaDAO’s builder squad providing this, or would it be the team in the proposal?
• I can say only great things about the people on the team; however, I would like to understand what their role would be and how this would be compatible with their other positions, especially in terms of time allocation
• VitaDAO funds projects with a budget of $200-250K dollars, and this is already little for some projects – how can we expect $30-40K to be enough to reach IP? If IP is not the inflection point, what would be the inflection point that makes the project a success?
o Or would there be other organizations providing the rest of the money (e.g., Molecule) to get to the $200-250K?
• There are already several projects on Catalyst, and I didn’t have time to go through them. Has the team already identified some that could be of interest to VitaDAO?
• How does the sourcing work for Catalyst? Is Molecule allocating a team and budget? How do we make sure that we don’t duplicate efforts with VitaDAO?


Interesting proposal. I believe the access to potentially promising early-stage projects is a good one. It also aligns with the mission of the VitaDAO community.


Thanks for the excellent questions @michele.gallia - will try answer each from my perspective but anyone else please feel free to disagree and chime in

This would be very much appreciated. Just as an FYI - our goal is to decentralized sourcing for Catalyst projects such that anyone can list projects for funding from the full DeSci community (as with experiment.com, for example), and is incentivized to do so. We’ll release more details on this soon, and for the record all are encouraged to sign up for the beta program here.

We are doing our best to curate high quality projects for funding - many of the researchers that have committed to participating in Catalyst are well-known names within VitaDAO. As for the protocol for determining which projects to fund:

  1. Molecule, with the help of VitaDAO and others, is sourcing projects and preparing fundraising materials to help them fundraise from the DAOs in the ecosystem as well as the individuals within DeSci.
  2. The projects relevant to longevity will be proposed to VitaDAO to fund as a DAO, and thus will have to go through VITA tokenholder approval, so it will be up to the community to vote whether to fund any of the proposed projects as a DAO.
  3. Also, given the nature of Catalyst is to enable individuals to directly fund projects, each VitaDAO member will be able to determine whether they want to individually fund a specific project (in addition to what the DAO allocates). This brings an element of ‘vote with your wallet (ETH)’ rather than your VITA, to signal which projects are exciting (moonshots), and pass your personal criteria. Everyone’s criteria are different, so this allows members to exercise their preferences on a case-by-case basis. I hope this makes sense.

Most of the projects we’re looking at right now are around TRL3. It’s sometimes hard to generalize the TRLs to bio, but most of them have in vitro evidence - whatever TRL you want to call that.

Good question. Will let @alexdobrin answer this one specifically.

Great questions here. This gets at the mechanics of Catalyst - which are to enable individuals and DAOs to co-fund projects together. So - 30-40k would come from the DAO, and yes, the rest would have to come from individual community members to hit a meaningful funding goal.

We’ll absolutely make the longevity-focused ones known to the community, to potentially be funded by the DAO or the community directly :slight_smile:

For this first cohort of projects, Molecule will be sourcing projects, with the help of our network. This is really to see whether the community is interested in funding projects directly. If they are, we will then open sourcing to the community also to see if community members are also interested in sourcing, and which incentives would be required. We thought it may be wise to de-risk funding, and focus on optimizing the funding experience, prior to optimizing the sourcing experience, which is a completely different challenge. Hope this makes sense and open to feedback here!

Thanks Michele!


Thank you Benji for your exhaustive answers.
Very exciting project :slight_smile: