UC Berkeley alumni auction for Nobel Prize-winning data

3 minutes
UC Berkeley alumni auction for Nobel Prize-winning data

A group of UC Berkeley alumni exploring the use of blockchain technology in research were the first bidders in a first - of its kind auction of digital data related to Nobel - Prize winning work on groundbreaking cancer treatments.

Some 30 graduate, many of whom were from the University's Blockchain in Berkeley, formed a venture capital-like group known as a anonymous entity and outbid three anonymous bidders. Last-minute bidding carried the price up to 22 ethereum, with a little more than $55,000, for the digitized token of the non-fungible documents.

'We are the very proud owners of the world's first Nobel NFT, said Justine Humenansky, a Berkeley graduate and Investor with Playground Global in Palo Alto, California, which specializes in early-stage companies.

After learning of the auction, Humenansky and other Berkeley graduates formed FiatLuxDAO for the school motto Fat Lux' or Let There Be Light. She said that the group is looking into '' how to leverage the power of cryptocurrency in research or research-oriented endeavors.

'Both DAO and the NFT are extremely cutting edge for a 150 years old university to be leading the way, she said. This is expanding as an asset class NFTs.

Non-fungible tokens are digital identifiers of unique data that effectively act as certificates of authenticity for their owners. While the digital technologies have been around for a decade, there has been a recent sales frenzy with assets such as artwork, a tweet and even a digital mosaic which sold for $69.3 million in March.

Berkeley offered a digital version of the filing form of the invention disclosure and the data given to patent lawyers so they can submit applications for the work of immunologist James Allison that led to his sharing the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, as well as internal notes that include the line 'This is the data that has got us excited!

Allison was professor of the University in 1990s when he made breakthrough discoveries on how to battle cancer. More than 15 types of cancer, including those of the skin, lung, kidney and bladder, are treated by immunotherapies based on his work.

Other universities were watching Berkeley auction to see if there's a way to obtain NFTs in order to help drive research to the public, said Ian McClure, new board chair for AUTM who represents university technology transfer offices. McClure also works with IPWe, a group created in collaboration with International Business Machines Corp. to explore the use of NFT in patent selling models.

Berlin has something that not every university has in the form of Nobel Prize-winning research, McClure said. We're looking at whether there are other attributes that can help in the challenging Tech Transfer process. We are curious to dig in.

Berkeley will keep 85% of the proceeds and use part of that money to offset the environmental costs of minting the NFT. The school also gets 10% of the proceeds of any subsequent sale of NFT. The bulk of its efforts will go to university research and education, including work in the blockchain hub of the campus.

What Berkeley is doing changes the game, said Tal Elyashiv, founder of Spice Venture Capital, which runs companies developing the digital ecosystem for cash and currency. 'Blockchain technology is revolutionizing all business transactions.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com.

  • Comments
Loading comments...