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Ella McCarthy-Page
Sep 21, 2023

DeSci.Berlin 2023: Consolidating the Vision


Moments that draw a community together act as an accelerant to progress. We recently hosted DeSci.Berlin 2023, facilitating essential conversations between key role players and encouraging knowledge to be dispensed liberally throughout the ecosystem.

Decentralized science & building a better future

A conference serves as a nexus for collaboration and impetus for growth. Sixteen months after the first DeSci.Berlin conference we reconvened to reflect on our ecosystem's growth, and to boldly forge new paths and as we continue our journey forward, at an exceptionally powerful pace.

The event took place over the 8th & 9th of September at Factory, deep in the center of Berlin. We had two jam-packed days of speakers, workshops, and panels (to put a number on it - 40 talks with over 70 individual speakers!). This year's event was centered around building a biotech Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (BioDAO), attracting a diverse group of attendees; scientists, investors, builders, developers, venture capitalists, and general decentralized science enthusiasts. The event was held in partnership with Protocol Lab’s Funding the Commons who celebrated the hands-on spirit of creation and innovation.

A quick DeSci pulse check

As always, to effectively plan a path forward, one needs to look back at how far we’ve come. Paul Kohlhaas, Molecule CEO and co-founder opened the proceedings on the 8th, sharing some promising growth metrics of the DeSci community as a whole: 

  • >$8m in research funded
  • More than 50,000 community members
  • A cumulative market cap of BioDAOs reaching $75m

Just in time for DeSci.Berlin, UltraRareBio released their updated ecosystem map, curated by Dr. Jocelynn Pearl! Community growth and diversification are evident. 

A few key themes materialized...

Decentralized Science as a movement, culture & history

The DeSci movement arose from a need to create more effective and efficient research translation pipelines by channeling open-source collaboration, and removing classic bottlenecks, such as the ‘Valley of Death’ (if you don’t know what this is, we recommend you read this article). Web3 and blockchain technology are the tools that have allowed us to do just that. We are currently witnessing a massive disruption of science as we know it. 

“No matter where you are across the world, you should have access to bootstrapping your science.”
Paul Kohlhaas, opening talk

Tyler Golato, Molecule CSO and co-founder rallied the audience, imploring them to dig into the ‘Pattern Languages’ of DeSci over the course of the two days. He honed in on DeSci’s potential to transform into an unstoppable movement; by igniting passion, empowering participants to be champions of their own cause, and uniting diverse people over shared values. Juan Benet was interviewed by Vincent Weisser, taking a deep dive into DeSci. The full podcast is available here

Puja Olhavar returning to speak at her second DeSci.Berlin

Meet the BioDAOs!

We heard from seasoned veterans VitaDAO, growing DAOs like HairDAO, ValleyDAO, MoonDAO, AthenaDAO who have already launched their own token, as well as burgeoning DAOs like PsyDAO, CerebrumDAO and SynapseDAO
We were particularly excited about two developments: 


HairDAO has tapped into its patient population, collecting and collating the same amount of data that is produced by a Phase 2 trial ($8M) for $50K, using their patient portal. Members of the HairDAO community contribute their hair loss data, and in exchange, receive HAIR tokens. Onboarding patients and connecting patients to researchers has never been done like this before. Co-initiators Andrew Verbinnen and Andrew Baskt also announced that they will begin testing a T4 topical cream, alongside other members of the HAIRy network state, based on results produced by their funded project with Dr Ralf Paus. You heard that right - a real product is on its way to patients! 


VitaDAO’s Korolchuk IP-NFT was given the spotlight this year, and for good reason! As an indication of budding web3 adoption, the University of Newcastle Technology Transfer office (TTO) and Dr. Korolchuk made wallets and received VITA-FAST IP tokens, during VitaDAO’s recent IP-NFT tokenization crowdsale. Incentivizing scientific contributions is crucial, and we’re excited to see it kicking off properly. Additionally, a computational science hackathon was announced, with the goal of exploring results produced by Dr. Korolchuk and his team!  The core thesis; it is possible to blind the data enough to protect the integrity and value of IP while simultaneously leveraging a hive-mind intelligence. We’re looking forward to sharing updates. 

Tips for nascent BioDAO builders

This year’s DeSci.Berlin catered especially to prospective builders in the ecosystem, with the aim of providing a solid foundation for attendees to go out into the world and start creating their own DAOs. Design, communication, fundraising, operations, token minting, legal - we had it all! 

Our favorite kernel of wisdom came from the talk “Traditional Ops vs. DAO Ops: Where's the intersection?”; decentralization happens on a spectrum. Founding stewards and core members need to be chosen carefully and be able to generate their own momentum, as they will still ultimately be steering the ship. 

"You don’t need a PhD to make a difference in a DAO - you just need to be a hard worker.”
James Brodie. 
DAO Operations Panel talk

Investing in biotechnology and healthcare

Mike Baran spearheaded Pfizer Ventures' early investment into VitaDAO last year. He joined us to talk about the pharma juggernaut’s involvement within DeSci; Pfizer analyzes the deal flow within the DAO and uses their strategy and skill to identify potential areas of collaboration. His advice to the DAOs? Without a deep focus on maturing their assets to validate the DeSci pipeline, the DAO puts itself at risk of losing momentum over the next few years.

Our investor's panel was a crowd favorite - we were joined by Zen Chu (UCLA), Chris Leiter (Atria Ventures), James Brodie (ID Theory), Elad Verbin (Lunar Ventures) and Dr. Friederike Ernst (Gnosis). They expressed the importance of involving patient groups, as no one knows a disease better than the people who live with it every day. If you're looking for funding, there were a couple of specific areas of interest that were raised; obesity, rare diseases, ADHD & autism and computational chemistry.

Our investor pane: Zen, Friederike, James, Elad, Chris

Scientist tooling

We heard from a host of innovative teams creating tools that will ease the labor that goes into doing academic scientific research. Less time spent on menial tasks and organization means more brainpower going into the bigger questions, accelerating the pace of discovery. 

  • Memex.Garden is a platform introducing workflows for collaborative reading and research of various materials, enabling a seamless and organized research experience. 
  • Foresight Institute's Technology Trees provide a comprehensive roadmap for the development and integration of advanced technologies. 
  • ScieNFT tackles publishing paradigms by leveraging blockchain technology for pre-print NFTs. 
  • Ceramic is a tool dedicated to notarizing scientific datasets.
  • JOGL v2 is an improved collaboration platform designed to meet the unique needs of DeSci communities.
  • bloxberg utilizes blockchain technology to provide a secure and transparent ecosystem for scientific data sharing, collaboration, and validation.
Workshop discussions

Noteworthy insights

A real-world use case of crypto

DeSci remains one of the most important use cases of crypto because it is solving real-world problems. The act of uniting a smart contract and a legal contract, and minting an IP-NFT demonstrates that blockchain transactions and crypto mechanisms are capable of actualizing real scientific results, ushering in a better world. 

Translating science to market

Efficiently translating scientific advancements to the market requires a blend of skills. This involves nurturing cross-disciplinary collaboration and streamlining operations to eliminate inefficiencies. Secondly, and somewhat more importantly, integrating the perspectives of patients and patient advocacy groups is DeSci’s golden ticket to success. No one knows better than the patients themselves, and onboarding them into the ecosystem will truly give us a competitive edge against traditional biotechnology ventures. 

Widespread adoption is essential 

The DeSci community needs to focus on accessibility: for widespread adoption, reduced barriers to entry are critical. Improved communication as well as increasingly user-friendly interfaces will aid in community growth and DAO voter turnout.

"Joining a DAO shouldn't be harder than joining a Facebook group."
Dr. Freiderike Ernst

Couldn’t make it? We’ve got you. 

We're currently uploading all the talks from the main stage on Day 1 and the DeSci.Berlin stage from Day 2 onto Molecule's Youtube: DeSci.Berlin 2023 YouTube playlist.

Over and out!

We’re grateful that we get to work in DeSci, and that we have your support in doing it! We can’t wait to see what the community is able to achieve over the next year. Till then!

A special thanks to our sponsors

None of this could’ve happened without our generous sponsors: CODE, VitaDAO, LabDAO,, Molecule, Gnosis, DeSci Labs, AthenaDAO, Beaker DAO, JOGL, ValleyDAO, Ocean Protocol, and PsyDAO.