While the biopharma industry has come a long way, many challenges remain, such as difficulty in aligning incentives of key stakeholders. Additionally, while many therapeutics are discovered in academic labs, funding in academia is preferentially allocated to established researchers and research fields, to the detriment of early career researchers and higher risk projects. The result is an ecosystem where potentially impactful research goes unfunded, and incentives for collaboration are often missing.
Molecule aims to address these incentive problems and funding gaps. We are creating an open ecosystem that assists researchers in raising funds for impactful research projects in a community-driven way. With Molecule, diverse communities (including patient groups, researchers, charities, VCs and pharma companies) can fund, own and govern therapeutic intellectual property. This provides novel incentives for collaboration, investment, and risk-sharing. The result is that communities, such as patient groups, can choose which projects get funded, and later own the therapeutics that treat their disease.
The Molecule ecosystem has three components
1) Communities: A community of physicians, scientists, and patients collaborate to form funding groups in specific therapeutic areas e.g. rare diseases and Alzheimer’s disease. These groups are structured as Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) which allow for community governance and shared financial decision-making. Molecule seeds DAOs in impactful therapeutic areas, such as VitaDAO, a community of 5,000+ members focused on aging and longevity that has funded >$2m in projects in academic labs across the world.
2) A new Intellectual Property primitive: Molecule has created a new legal primitive for intellectual property (IP) ownership called IP-NFTs that allows communities to invest in early stage research IP. IP-NFTs allow researchers to fundraise without needing to patent early or create a startup.
3) A marketplace to enable direct investment into researchers' work: Molecule is building a marketplace for biotech IP. Researchers at any career stage submit projects for funding, increasing discoverability of neglected research areas, and addressing key funding gaps.
As a result, Molecule aims to help bring innovative therapeutics to market in a more efficient, transparent and equitable way.
“Many of the most impactful therapeutics are discovered in academic labs, yet development and translation of these assets toward the clinic remains difficult. Molecule’s marketplace and IP-NFT framework will address many of the pain points inherent in the funding and commercialization of early-stage biotech IP, ultimately benefiting the most important stakeholder in the Molecule ecosystem – the patient. Northpond is excited to partner with Molecule and lead their seed round.” - Patrick Malone, MD PhD, Associate at Northpond Ventures.
Molecule: what’s to come
The capital raised will be used to grow our marketplace with hundreds of research projects, expand our team, build out our protocol and technology layer into an open infrastructure, and provide grants to patient-centric biotech DAOs to expand our DeSci ecosystem. We also hope to out-license the first NFT-based IP to industry, demonstrating for the first time patient-led translational drug development.
“Scientific research today suffers from a myriad of funding and intermediation issues, making it a ripe candidate for disruption by blockchain-based infrastructure. We’re incredibly excited for Molecule to improve capital & social coordination for the massive life science industry by enabling markets for drug development and turning all stages of intellectual property into liquid assets.” - Lasse Clausen, Founding Partner of 1kx
"Many of us are tired of hearing about NFT monkeys selling for millions. Molecule is using the NFT framework for something truly important: helping incredible scientific research transition from the lab bench to the benefit of all. Molecule’s work will help more life-saving drugs get to patients. That's an application of web3 that's easy to get excited about." - Seth Bannon, Founding Partner at Fifty Years.
To truly decentralize adoption, we are also building accelerator frameworks for the friction-less launch of biotech DAOs targeting specific diseases of high unmet need, such as rare diseases and mental health. We see a future where scientists raise funds from incentive-aligned communities that wish to support them, and where patients themselves have governance over how therapeutics are researched, developed and accessed.
“The operational complexity, significant time, and prohibitive cost required to develop biotechnology therapeutics has led to an industry that is dominated by capital providers and captured by pharmaceutical companies. Molecule is flipping biotech on its head, bringing stakeholders together at inception to initiate projects, keeping scientists at the center of their innovations, and pushing projects forward that typically would not see the light of day in the current market structure. Molecule has the opportunity to change the face of biotech forever by helping to bring novel drugs and therapeutics to those who are most invested in them. Molecule and its visionary team can finally ensure that we privilege innovation in healthcare.” - Mo Koyfman, Founder and General Partner of Shine Capital.
Our journey since inception
Since our pre-seed in early 2020, the team has grown to 22 members spread across the US, South-Africa and Europe, operating in a semi-remote fashion. Over these past few years, we have funded a first group of projects, and helped build the first biotech DAO - VitaDAO - which has deployed $2m+ to fund longevity research to date, including research at the Scheibye-Knudsen Lab (University of Copenhagen), Viktor Korolchuk's Lab (University of Newcastle) and the Evandro Fang Lab (University of Oslo) all using Molecule’s IP-NFT framework. Our hope is that DeSci will provide a Copernican shift in access to therapeutics, of similar magnitude to what DeFi has become for traditional finance.
"Programmatic IP rights represented as NFTs are a breakthrough innovation with the potential to solve some of humanity's most pressing (incentive) problems. We believe that Molecule is a category defining project which will inspire a wave of innovators bringing the concept of collective ownership and liquid IP markets into various areas of R&D. We're grateful for having been part of Molecule's journey since inception and couldn't be more excited about what's to come." - Alexander Lange, Founding GP at Inflection VC
We are incredibly grateful and excited to welcome our new investors: Northpond Ventures, Shine Capital, 1kx, Fifty Years, The LAO, BACKED VC, ZeePrime Capital, L1 Digital, Seed Club Ventures, IDTheory, Compound VC, Pillar VC, Inflection VC, Protocol Labs, BoxGroup, KdT Ventures, IDTheory, Boom Capital, Gaingels, Cherry Ventures, Amino Collective, Chorus One, OrangeDAO, BeakerDAO, Nathaniel Manning, Speedinvest, Bool Capital, Koji Capital, Healthspan Capital, Breyer Capital.
Chris Leiter, Zen Chu, Allison Duettman, Pamir Gelenbe, Katelyn Donnelly, Steve Wiggins, Balaji Srinivasan, Piers Kicks, Qiao Wang, Brian Fabian Crain, Scott Moore, Philipp Banhardt, Meher Roy, Ajay Rayasam, Angelo Tagliabue, Collin Myers, Jonas Keller, Garret MacDonald, Luis Cuende, Theodor Walker, Ronjon Nag, Alok Tayi, Laurence Ion, Todd White, Tim Peterson, Jahed Momand, Laurens De Poorter, Andrew Steinwold, Tim Schlidt, Justin Olshavsky & some who remain anonymous.
We’re incredibly grateful for the follow-on investment from our pre-seed investors who also participated in this round: Inflection VC, Amino Collective, IDTheory, Andrew Keys, and our other earliest supporters: Lunar Ventures, Possible Ventures, First Principles VC, Signature Ventures and James Brodie.
How to get involved
3. Are you interested in creating a biotech DAO? We are launching bio.xyz, a biotech DAO and DeSci accelerator - apply here for funding.