The University of California, Berkeley, announced on Thursday, May 27 that it will be auctioning NFTs of digital data related to Nobel Prize-winning inventions. The NFTs, linking to the online digitized documents for gene editing and cancer immunotherapy, will be sold to raise money for research, the university said in a press release.
The digitized documents correspond to “internal forms and correspondence that document the initial research findings that led to two of the most important biomedical breakthroughs of the 21st century,” the campus added.
On May 27, the university finished minting an NFT for data related to immunotherapy scientist James Allison’s work. He had shared the 2018 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine for his work. The NFT is likely to go up for auction on June 2 on Foundation, an NFT auction platform based on Ethereum.
Later, it will hold the auction for a second NFT, corresponding to the works of Professor Jennifer Doudna. Doudna shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. She was instrumental in helping create a gene-editing technique called CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats).
Funds to aid education and research
The university will keep 85% of the proceeds. It will use a part of it to offset the energy costs of minting the NFT. Meanwhile, Foundation will get 15%. While the school will get 10% of the proceeds of any subsequent sale of the NFT, Foundation will receive 5%.
The majority of the fund will be used to aid education and innovative research at the university, including work in Blockchain at Berkeley, the campus’s blockchain hub.
A donation with a difference
“People give us donations all the time because they care about the institution and the science,” said Rich Lyons, UC Berkeley’s chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer. “So here is a way for somebody to invest in the institution in a slightly different way.”
For Allison’s invention, the university is offering invention disclosures in digital form. While Allison’s patents have expired, Doudna’s work continues to generate fresh patents. As a result, the NFT based on her work will be minted later, Lyons told Fortune.
In the past couple of months, NFTs have witnessed a steady rise in popularity. NFT artworks, articles, collectibles, songs, and more have been selling like hotcakes.
For instance, digital artist Beeple sold his cryptoart for $69 million at an auction at Christie’s in March. His work had created history as the most expensive NFT. Even NFTs of tweets have raked in millions. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, for example, sold his first-ever tweet for US$2.9 million as an NFT.
Amid this NFT boom, UC Berkeley seems to have opened up doors to a fresh kind of NFTs – pieces that represent “symbols of great science.”
“Someone might ask, ‘Why would I want a digital version of some internal university form?’ Because it represents something magnificent,” Lyons said. “There are people who recognize and care about symbols of great science, and even if they never intend to resell the NFT, they want to own it and they want resources to go back to Berkeley.”