With news of H.E. Justin Sun’s plans to invest $51K into the Longevity Prize, a fund seeking to stimulate innovative research proposals, it appears that there is a marked interest within the crypto and tech communities in longevity science. Sun’s donation comes after Vitalik Buterin’s contribution of $130K and Stefan George’s $6.5K to the same fund.
However, these donations are not isolated, nor is this the only longevity-related fund that they’ve donated to. Several names from the tech and crypto world have been investing their funds into the long game of life: longevity science.
Who are the crypto and tech names investing in longevity?
Vitalik Buterin, founder of the Ethereum ecosystem, is among the most notable names to show his support for longevity. His interest isn’t all words and no action, as he has donated an estimated $336 million into the sphere, including a $2M donation to SENS Research Foundation, $6M to Impetus Grants, and ~$25M in SHIB to the Future of Life Institute in 2021 alongside his longevity fund donation of $130K. In March 2020, he tweeted his support for the sector, saying:
If we’re being more open minded about accepting new weird ideas, can I suggest anti-aging research? Aging is a humanitarian disaster that kills as many people as WW2 every two years and even before killing debilitates people and burdens social systems and families. Let’s end it.
H.E. Justin Sun, as noted, has recently donated ~$51K to the Longevity Prize. This is not his first encounter in bringing together his interest in crypto and longevity technology. In 2021, Sun responded to Vitalik Buterin’s Tweet about VitaDAO and longevity, suggesting that someone should invest $3.4M in Ether Rocks (an NFT) for longevity science; Sun took up the challenge. H.E. Sun is a ‘crypto diplomat’ and founder of the DAO ecosystem TRON.
Brian Armstrong, CEO and founder of the crypto exchange Coinbase, recently went public with his belief in the longevity sector by vowing to invest 2% of Coinbase stock, estimated at approximately $54M, into longevity science. NewLimit and ResearchHub are two of the companies set to benefit. Previously, Armstrong was involved in the foundation of both companies, providing a start-up investment to NewLimit to kickstart its work on epigenetics.
Richard Heart, HEX cryptocurrency founder, raised millions in a cryptocurrency initiative surrounding the launch of a new cryptocurrency, Pulse. The funds raised via an airdrop were estimated at approximately ~$27M and were received by the SENS Research Foundation.
Juan Benet, Protocol Labs founder, became one of the founding donors of the Impetus Grants, which delivers funding to researchers and scientists working on aging biology. Benet has noted the need for reform in how science is funded and the need for new R&D funding mechanisms.
Peter Thiel, founder and former CEO of PayPal, was an early investor in aging research, making a donation of $3.5M to the Methuselah Mouse Prize Foundation in 2006. He later founded Breakout Labs, a nonprofit designed to support scientists working across biology and technology. Although not specifically targeted at aging research, the organization has funded several longevity-related endeavors, including Cortexyme targeting Alzheimer’s, CyteGen seeking to improve mitochondrial function, Gel4Med focusing on regenerative medicine, Longevity Biotech developing peptides, and Orion BioScience looking into Soluble Antigen Array (SAgA) technology.
Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google’s founders, formed Calico Life Sciences, a subsidiary of Alphabet, in 2013. The aim of this subdivision turned company is to understand the aging process and develop viable interventions.
Larry Ellison, co-founder of the software company Oracle, has been noted as investing $430 million into longevity research alongside an additional $200M into cancer research.
They are joined by other world-known investors, such as Jim Mellon and Peter Diamandis, and investment management organizations, such as Warburg Pincus, Pavilion Capital, Celgene, Hercules Capital, and Bold Capital Partners.
What is the connection between crypto, tech, and longevity?
With an increasing number of big crypto names joining the ranks of longevity investors, it becomes more difficult to brush off such interest as a coincidence, particularly when some investments date back to 2006. Conversely, it begs the question of the connection between the two worlds.
The technology behind cryptocurrency deserves its own attention. Blockchain technology can connect individuals and companies worldwide in an innovative, secure way. The evolution of the blockchain could be likened to the advent of the internet and its growth in the 1990s, and it continues to evolve in use cases. Within the world of longevity, crypto seeks to solve several industry challenges:
- Building connections between scientists: Projects such as VitaDAO and LabDAO seek to work globally with other researchers and interested parties to develop solutions to the common challenge of longevity. It is hoped by funding scientific research and sharing information that progress can be driven forward and at a greater speed.
- Addressing current funding issues: Science is often funded on a ‘most likely to succeed’ basis, making the industry highly competitive. As a result, more innovative projects fall to the wayside. By creating funding initiatives using blockchain technology, organizations aim to create a funding boost to the sector. For example, VitaDAO has recently held its fifth IP-NFT ceremony, a funding model based on a piece of intellectual property stored in an NFT.
- Removing the paywall from science: Unlike other research initiatives, decentralized science (DeSci), made possible with the blockchain, focuses on open-access policies and information sharing as a standard. It eliminates paywalls that inhibit research and allows increased access and collaboration between scientists.
As the longevity sector is diverse, each area could utilize these concepts, among others, in entirely different ways. For example, they may feed into the wider area of biotechnology initiatives, such as aging tech, neural science, AI, and cellular engineering. This new method of investment may contribute to initiatives that affect the human population as a whole, as suggested by Buterin on several occasions.
Crypto, tech, and longevity
Recent donations into the longevity sector from the crypto world, including with Sun’s recent contribution of $51K and Armstrong’s commitment to deliver $54M, highlight the interest of the crypto world in aging research. These donors join the ranks of other tech and crypto investors seeking to drive solutions at the intersection between science and technology, suggesting a growing connection between the tech and longevity worlds.
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February 16, 2023
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