Aleksandar Bijelić is the CEO of MVP Workshop and President of the Board at the Serbian Venture Network.
The convergence of medical research and web3 technology is ushering in a new era of innovation. As the world becomes increasingly digitized, the medical research business model is undergoing radical transformation, driven by the potential of decentralized web3 technologies on all four arms: investors, researchers, employees, and patients.
Web3, the decentralized internet, offers a plethora of opportunities for the medical research sector. With the ability to create decentralized applications and smart contracts, researchers can now collaborate in a transparent and secure environment. This not only accelerates the pace of research but also ensures data integrity and patient privacy, as well as the ownership of data used in research and the distribution of wealth generated through this.
Usually, medical research has been a centralized process, with major institutions and pharmaceutical companies dominating the landscape. Furthermore, all the research documentation belonged to research institutions, which are now undergoing strong disruption. Traditional business models assumed that all medical data was owned by the doctors and institutions that provided the service, whereas new business models are setting a precedent that patients own the data since they are the originators of it and paid for the medical treatment.
Adoption of such a model would mean that clinics and research institutions would need to pay patients every time they use their data for research (X-rays, alphanumeric data, statistics, and so on) even if they plan to aggregate and anonymize it.
Adopting change on a larger scale would mean a shift in power dynamics and the disruption of traditional business models, especially in connection to AI development that has been based on large data models. In addition, decentralized finance platforms are enabling individual investors to fund promising research projects with even smaller amounts (crowdfunding medical research), thus bypassing traditional funding mechanisms and enabling smaller research facilities to focus on breakthrough innovation.
One of the most revolutionary aspects of web3 is the concept of tokenization, an idea deeply rooted in the principles of web3, revolutionizing the way we perceive value and ownership in the digital age.
In the realm of medical research, this transformative idea promises to reshape funding mechanisms, democratize access, and foster a new era of collaborative innovation as medical research projects can now issue their own tokens.
In essence, tokenization involves converting rights to an asset into a digital token on a blockchain. These tokens can represent a stake or share in a given research endeavor or outcome in the context of medical research, or they might represent a property right for a specific piece of data or research.
These tokens in the form of ERC20 or ERC721 can be traded on decentralized exchanges, increasing market liquidity and democratizing investment opportunities.
Shorter route to market and democratized investment: Traditionally, investing in medical research was reserved for institutional investors or wealthy individuals and it took a long time to garner funds. Tokenization breaks down these barriers, allowing anyone to invest in promising research, even with minimal capital and, on the other side, allowing anyone to profit from this research.
Liquidity: Tokens can be traded on decentralized exchanges, providing liquidity to investments that were previously illiquid. This means that investors can more rapidly buy or sell their stake based on the progress or outcomes of the research, leading to a dynamic and responsive funding environment.
Transparency and trust: With research milestones and data recorded on a blockchain, there is an unprecedented level of transparency. Investors can track the progress of their invested projects in real time, fostering trust and accountability.
Global collaboration: Tokenized research projects can attract global attention. Researchers from different parts of the world can collaborate, and global investors can fund projects that resonate with them, regardless of geographical boundaries.
A prime example of the power of web3 in medical research is the rise of decentralized clinical trials. Patients from around the world can participate in trials, with data being recorded on a blockchain. This ensures data immutability and transparency, while also significantly reducing the time and cost associated with traditional clinical trials.
At the same time, patients, as the owners of the data, can request and receive payment or a fractional part of the revenue generated by the research developed using their data.
While the integration of web3 and medical research is still in its infancy, the potential is immense. As more researchers, institutions, and investors recognize the benefits of decentralization, the medical research business model will continue to evolve. The future promises a more collaborative, transparent, and efficient research ecosystem, driven by the principles of web3.
The fusion of medical research and web3 technology is not just a passing trend; it is a paradigm shift. As the world grapples with unprecedented health challenges, the need for innovative solutions has never been greater.
By embracing web3, the medical research community is poised to lead the way in discovering breakthrough treatments and cures for the most pressing medical challenges of our time, which for regular investors means they should divert their attention to the changes in this field.