VDP-45: Decentralized Tech Transfer (DTT)

Problem

Tech transfer offices (TTOs) at universities are a major bottleneck in funding projects.

Solution

Decentralised Tech Transfer (DTT).

In brief, the idea is:

  1. Identify researchers with a project.
  2. Pay the selected researchers as consultants on the project.
  3. Use contract research organizations (CROs) and core facilities at universities with which the researcher isn’t affiliated to execute the project and generate the intellectual property (IP). This IP will be owned by those who fund the project and the researchers.
  4. Anyone could get upside in the project by helping incubate it.

Analogy: Rather than Airbnb negotiating with hotel owners for their unused rooms or Uber negotiating with taxi companies on their unused cars, these Web2 companies disintermediated them by going straight to the people. Similarly, rather than negotiating with universities, VitaDAO should go straight to the researchers.

VitaDAO-specific details: The above is a general concept that could be used in any DeSci context. The following details pertain to VitaDAO specifically:

  1. The project aligns with VitaDAO’s mission of promoting longevity.
  2. The IP will be owned by VitaDAO and the researchers, via a RWE (real world entity) holding company.
  3. “Anyone” getting upside would likely refer to members of the VitaDAO community.

Benefits:

  1. Greater efficiency. No more waiting on universities and their tech transfer offices (TTOs). All negotiations are directly between the researcher(s) and VitaDAO.
  2. The researcher(s) are in full control of their upside. The effort they put in determines their resulting equity/IP stake. They also receive regular consulting fees for the work they put in.
  3. VitaDAO’s funds will be spent more judiciously. It only pays for IP generating experiments and the hours of work the researcher(s) put in. This also allows for better treasury management because VitaDAO’s funds stay longer under its control, e.g., in yield generating accounts, e.g., DeFi, rather than sitting in a university’s bank account not earning interest.
  4. DTT better focuses VitaDAO on entrepreneurially minded researchers, who are well suited to cross the valley of death and who are aligned with other entrepreneur-centered efforts in the space e.g., YCombinator, Nucleate, NewScience, SPARK, etc.
  5. Growing DAO2DAO coordination and the DeSci movement. In coordination with DeSci partners such as LabDAO, partners will be selected to provide services for the projects. Partners can be companies, CROs or universities with which the researchers aren’t affiliated.

Long-term: This will make VitaDAO more automated and less hampered by university bureaucracy. Regarding automation, we can imagine self-serve website experiences where all the following activities are possible:

  1. Researchers post their project
  2. Qualified people review the project in exchange for VITA tokens
  3. On-chain voting to fund or not the project happens once the project accumulates enough reviews

Specification

Researcher network: This VDP proposes that VitaDAO, in partnership with other researcher networks, will source researchers that are willing and able to lead projects in this DTT model. It’s understood that some researcher’s employers may prevent them from participating in IP generation outside of their employment. Partnering researcher networks are still TBD.

CRO network: This VDP proposes that VitaDAO, in partnership with LabDAO, will orchestrate a CRO network for researchers to tap into to do the IP-generating experiments. To pilot this initiative, VitaDAO will take the lead in establishing a Master Agreement with Washington University in St. Louis’ Center for Drug Discovery, which has both medicinal chemistry and high-throughput screening capabilities.

The details of the relationship, e.g., financial terms, between VitaDAO and LabDAO will be the subject of a future VDP. It should be understood though that because this CRO network can be used by more than just VitaDAO, VitaDAO should receive $LAB tokens in exchange for funding its development.

Team: @timrpeterson @SB23 @NiklasTR @tylergolato @longevion @Tovah @Taliskermalt @lutz. Those interested in helping please contact us.

Success Metrics: Establish diverse services both wet-lab and computational (> 10). Sign partnerships with well-established institutions that in addition to providing good science will ideally lead to discounted services and co-branding opportunities.

Timeline: Six months. June 2022-January 2023.

Budget: Bounty payments in the form of $VITA tokens will be given to those who contribute to building the researcher and CRO networks.

  • Agree
  • Agree with revisions (please comment)
  • Disagree

0 voters

9 Likes

Amazing proposal and evolution of what I think is a better, more decentralized setup to explore for conducting research with VitaDAO going forward!!

6 Likes

I am very excited about VitaDAO x LabDAO working together on directly performing experiments with scientists online!

5 Likes

The Texas Medical Center here in Houston could be a great collaboration center for this. The TMC operates as one entity, and the universities within it (Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, UTHealth, MD Anderson) operate independently. However, they all use core facilities that are fee based and independent of the universities. The TMC is also the largest medical center in the world and chock full of patients and researchers. I am very familiar with the commercialization people at UTHealth and MD Anderson and would be happy to gather more information from them if it would be helpful at all!

2 Likes

hi @alecsantiago this sounds ideal! We will ideally vote on it on-chain soon, so let’s discuss assuming it passes and becomes a real thing more towards the Fall.

1 Like

I really like this proposal.

Is anyone at VitaDAO currently looking through the top few hundred university IP policies to see which unis might or might not be able to work on this? That would help focus marketing efforts (eg don’t bother with unis that claim all IP generated, regardless of when it is).

One challenge with the ‘researchers bring projects’ is that the idea already exists= university may have a claim on it. Would it be possible to develop a VitaDAO incubator project to sponsor researchers to come up with projects at the incubator-- (or is this incubator idea basically the Hackathon proposal from earlier?)

Or maybe bring researchers on as consultants (= review existing/proposed projects) first so that employment/contract/whatever relationship exists. Pay them whatever, but also for ideas. That might better seperate the idea generation from the university. It might also let VitaDAO vet the researchers before investing big in ideas that sound good, but will fail.

3 Likes

@bowtiedshrike thanks! definitely you identified the chicken-or-egg in DTT. It’s a good suggestion to read through IP policies to identify the more researcher friendly universities. We do have a few people who are in deep with TTOs, e.g. @Swaat.

It might also let VitaDAO vet the researchers before investing big in ideas that sound good, but will fail

This fits with our notion of focusing on academics who are entrepreneurial. There are considerable differences between entrepreneurs and traditional academics. Traditional academics have the safety net of grants and tenure to fall back on, so their incentives to take risks and to create monetary value can be less.

1 Like

I don’t understand the distinction you’re trying to make between traditional academics and entrepreneurs.

Do you mean a matter of being driven vs not being driven? Once you’re 100% effort on grants, you have to start giving them to your RAPs in order to get more, and review panels/funding agencies are sometimes cranky about that.

Or do you mean people happy with 1-2 sources of funding vs those who want it all?

And what do you mean by risk-taking? Submitting earlier-stage projects? Hiring personnel with weaker backgrounds? What is an example of a risk you think a traditional academic would NOT take?

1 Like

This proposal has now been moved to Snapshot.

Voting starts on: 04 Jun 22 03:05 UTC
Voting ends on: 11 Jun 22 03:05 UTC

We usually close these threads once the proposal is up on Snapshot, but I’ll leave it open for now to resolve this ongoing discussion. cc @bowtiedshrike @timrpeterson rpeterson