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Guiding Statement

The full PDF version of the document is available here.

Abstract


The Longevity Science Foundation is a non-profit organisation advancing the field of human longevity by funding early-stage, promising Research and Development. The goal of the Foundation is to extend the healthy human lifespan. The Foundation focuses on funding early-stage longevity innovations. These innovations, within five years of their inception, can have a measurable impact on human longevity.

The Longevity Science Foundation uses the functioning mechanism of a non-profit organisation. Combining meticulous investor-style project proposal evaluation and screening, it explicitly addresses the issue of asymmetric early-stage research funding in the longevity space. The Foundation pre-screens, evaluates and funds early innovative translational research in longevity. This early innovative research otherwise risks becoming non-existent due to the funding gap and lack of pre-Venture Capital in the field of human longevity.

As its long-term mission, the Longevity Science Foundation strives to make longevity-focused solutions translatable to practice and accelerate their accessibility to everyone. Specifically, the Foundation will accomplish its mission by bringing cutting-edge science on ageing out of the laboratory and into public use.

The Foundation is advised by a Visionary Board comprised of Key Opinion Leaders in longevity and biotech. The Visionary Board also functions as a strategic committee defining its project focus. It adopts an innovative governance approach, granting its donors voting rights and access to early innovation opportunities in exchange for their contributions. The Foundation thus puts its donors at the centre of final decision-making regarding funding.

The Foundation does not claim any equity or Intellectual Property rights in the projects it supports, focusing purely on qualitative and quantitative advancement of the longevity space.


Executive Summary


Foundation Overview


The Longevity Science Foundation is a non-profit organisation advancing the field of human longevity. It accomplishes its directive by funding early-stage, innovative R&D. Its mission is to fund research and development that extends the healthy human lifespan. The long-term goal of the Longevity Science Foundation is to make longevity-focused solutions translatable to medical practice and accelerate the accessibility of new treatments and therapies to all. By funding cutting-edge science at its source, the Longevity Science Foundation helps take ageing science out of the laboratory and to the public.

Industry Gap


Longevity researchers often face challenges related to a lack of funding and acknowledgement of ageing as a disease, particularly for early-stage projects. Bureaucratic funding processes and a lack of transparency in many funding organisations worsen these problems and contribute to inequality in accessing ageing-related treatments.

Visionary Board


While being represented by the Foundation Board, the Foundation is advised by the Visionary Board, consisting of six leading researchers in longevity and biotech. The Visionary Board defines areas of focus and pre-vets projects for donator funding after due diligence is completed.

Foundation Board


The overall management of the Foundation rests with the Foundation Board supported by the LSF team, which are comprised of experienced professionals in asset management and venture funding, including projects in biotech and science-intensive ventures.

Decision Mechanism


The Longevity Science Foundation adopts an innovative governance approach, granting its donators voting rights and early innovation access opportunities in exchange for their contributions. This is an inclusive and holistic model for giving that ensures all donators have a say in the Foundation’s direction and funding decisions. LSF Points: LSF Points are allocated to donators in proportion to their donation size and when they made the donation. Points can be used to vote or earn rewards such as NFTs commemorating contributions, consultations with specialists and early access to treatments.

The Foundation explicitly states that the LSF Point is not an investment instrument and does not have a monetary value. The LSF does not sell nor exchange LSF Points to any fiat or digital currency.

Blockchain and Software Architecture


The Foundation’s funding mechanism supports contributions in both fiat and digital currencies. Off- chain components include proposal evaluation, asset management, user identity-checks and governance. Donations, LSF Point transfers and report security are managed via a smart contract on a public blockchain that will be built on Ethereum.

Introduction


Longevity: definition and impact


Longevity is an emerging multidisciplinary field driven by the rapid convergence of biotechnology, medicine, engineering, big data and artificial intelligence. Its focus is to extend the healthy lifespan, prevent age-associated diseases and improve the performance of humans and animals. It is widely recognised as a field that unites medicine, science, economics, healthcare, global health, governance and education.
One should abstain from thinking about longevity as a mechanical life extension. Rather, the longevity field focuses on prolonging a healthy lifespan by adopting, wherever possible, an individual and precision-driven approach to each patient, which can be repeatable/translatable across a variety of cases. Over the last ten years, longevity research has established itself as:

  1. The medicine and science of the future;
  2. A novel methodological launchpad, creating an impact on the individual's health level, with translatability to global health;
  3. A paradigmatic shift, changing the attention from reactive therapies to individualised prevention and prediction methods;
  4. A leading transformational arena successfully uniting multidisciplinary branches of tech, medicine, science, economics, healthcare, global health, governance and education.

Need for a universally inclusive early-stage funding model


While rapidly developing, the field of longevity has been prone to several serious drawbacks, slowing its progress and decelerating its clinical transition.

Asymmetry in funding and low survival rate of fundamental research


To date, the burden of scientific progress in the longevity industry has mainly relied on selected research excellence centres (such as BUCK, SENS and several leading universities) to translate fundamental research into therapies. Such translational research has been turned into spin-offs that seek early-stage investment in the Venture Capital market. The ability of such early-stage fundamental research to be translated into Venture Capital-eligible focused technology has mainly been dependent on the resources available to its originating institution. Typically, research centres would channel this into funding a particular piece of research to maturation and, in turn, establishing a focus as a distinct potential method or intervention. Independent research collectives, on the contrary, often did not have enough access to early-stage funds and were therefore unable to transform their fundamental scientific exploration into actionable therapies/interventions.

Venture capital money is too late and non-equity funding is inefficient, siloed and bureaucratised


While venture capital has been the primary source of funding for longevity-based start-ups since the inception of their journeys toward pre-clinical and clinical validation, this source of funding has been, to a large extent, unable to fund the fundamental research that preceded it. The investment strategies of Venture Capital funds require a dedicated disease focus and a clear path to market and, most often, first in-vitro validation. Collectively, these are criteria for whether the early-stage innovation is eligible to raise its first pre-seed round. This leaves the fundamental, pre-translational research, which is the backbone of innovation in the industry, struggling to acquire heavily bureaucratised non-dilutive funding, often competing with other potentially groundbreaking approaches. While the strongest or luckiest survive, the industry faces a mere fraction of what researchers could have potentially created if early-stage funding were more abundant, transparent and immediately usable.

Lack of funding transparency


The question of why funding was awarded to some proposals, while others were left discarded, currently remains unanswered. Non-dilutive grant funding schemes rely on non-transparent, internal evaluation practices. Applicants cannot trace or audit the voting and decision-making mechanics that led to a particular decision.

Inequality in longevity-related treatment access


Currently, longevity-related treatments and technology are not widely available to the general public, with only a small segment of the population having access. While one might argue that early innovation has historically been available to only a selected group of individuals/early adopters, this statement remains fundamentally flawed. The real reason behind the inequality in access to longevity treatments lies in the scarcity of treatments available, which is a direct consequence of fundamental research failing to reach an actionable form.

Ageing research and practical ageing-related interventions have little in common


While most early-stage fundamental research relies on bureaucratised grant funding, it has become increasingly scientifically skewed, looking at 20 to 30-year research horizons rather than therapies that can demonstrate quantifiable results within the next five years. In other words, funded research often prioritises achieving obscure academic findings instead of suggesting down-to-earth and actionable interventions. As a result, medical practitioners are very limited in approaches that have been practically validated and can be used in the daily treatment of humans.

Ageing is not universally acknowledged as a disease


As ageing is often not viewed as a complex, disease-like process, it significantly decelerates the clinical translation of research related to ageing into real-life therapies.

Solution


A foundational framework incorporating an investment-style approach and donator- centric decision-making


Merging non-equity funding with investment-driven rationale


The Longevity Science Foundation is a novel interpretation of a traditional non-profit/non-equity mechanism for early-stage research funding. The Foundation follows an investment-style approach to due diligence, focusing on short-term, five-year impact potential. The Foundation centres innovation in its decision-making mechanism by adopting a donator-centric approach to voting and funding decisions. In adopting this unique approach, LSF upholds and combines two of its core values:

  1. A short-term, impact-driven and non-equity philosophy for funding. This philosophy will allow the Foundation to inclusively fund promising early-stage longevity research initiatives around the globe, bridging the existent funding gap and allowing more sustainable innovation to reach the market, or at least produce feasible clinical results, within the next five years.
  2. Detailed project screening guidelines, driven by an investing mindset and valuing:
  • strong protectable IP with clear origins and ownership;
  • diverse teams with a proven track record;
  • substantial innovation;
  • potential for short-term, five-year translational impact.

Combining both foundational and investment paradigms allows the Foundation to fund promising early-stage research worldwide and, in turn, reduce global mortality rates with potentially groundbreaking longevity treatments. This model is a departure from the traditional academic setup of working toward hard-to-translate, purely scientific conclusions. It emphasises the pressing need to develop actionable lifespan-increasing interventions within the next five years. Finally, these combined values help to reduce project failure rates by creating a practical due-diligence framework.

LSF SMART strategy


The funding principles of the LSF can be further summarised using the SMART strategy format:
S: Sustainable (funding up to five years for projects with a potential impact for decades or more);
M: Medical (primary focus is to accelerate longevity medicine in a broad sense);
A: Accelerative (funding associated with networks, advisory, constructive feedback, support);
R: Resourceful (beyond financing, also advising, networking, promotion, etc.);
T: Translational (focus on translation to practice, beginning with the selection process and support for evaluation throughout the study).

Focus areas


The focus of the Foundation will be to select projects in four significant areas of longevity technology: therapeutics, predictive diagnostics, personalised medicine and artificial intelligence. One of the main priorities for projects will be suitability for “concept-to-practice”, equivalent to the bench-to-bed concept common in longevity medicine. The Foundation shall advance and facilitate translation of scientific and technological solutions to the clinic/daily life, with measurable outcomes related to healthy longevity.

Inclusivity of stakeholders


Individuals and non-biotech entities receive:
  • Voting powers to shape Foundation’s funding decisions directly;
  • Early-stage participation in longevity-related interventions funded by the Foundation;
  • Direct access to proprietary knowledge and technology not available to the public.

Venture Funds receive:
  • Voting powers to shape Foundation’s funding decisions directly;
  • Access to proprietary deal-flow upon its inception, ability to invest into proprietary longevity tech immediately after it reaches market-ready status;
  • Access to the most detailed and vetted map of the longevity industry.

Biopharma actors receive:
  • Voting powers and ability to directly influence Foundation's funding decisions by reviewing and voting for project proposals that have been pre-vetted by Foundation's Visionary Board and due diligence team;
  • Earliest access to cutting-edge early-stage longevity tech, potential acquisition, licensing, and/or investment targets from the leading longevity research hubs.

Healthcare institutions (private or public) receive:
  • Voting powers to shape Foundation’s funding decisions directly;
  • Access to the latest early-stage longevity technology for patient use, early adoption of life- extension methods not yet available to the broader public;
  • Ability to enrol patient cohorts in clinical trials of early longevity interventions.

Research and academic hubs receive:
  • Voting powers to shape Foundation’s funding decisions directly;
  • Submission of early-stage longevity research projects for funding, development support to reach readiness for pre-seed venture funding;
  • Access to the most detailed and vetted map of the longevity industry.

Corporate entities receive:
  • Voting powers to shape Foundation’s funding decisions directly;
  • Ability to provide high-impact, fully auditable contributions;
  • Access to the most detailed and vetted map of the longevity industry.

Longevity charity 2.0 - decision making and governance


Traditional charity decision making re-defined - introducing LSF Points


Most present non-equity granting and charity models can be characterised by a lack of transparency in decision-making processes. While a lack of transparency is not necessarily a flaw on its own, a Foundation concept that prioritises donator involvement in its decision-making process requires substantial innovation in how stakeholders make funding decisions.

The LSF has created a voting mechanism that allows its donators to cast votes and act as the driving force behind every decision the Foundation makes during its funding cycle to match its donator- centric ambition. As part of this new voting mechanism, the Foundation has created the LSF Point, a voting right assigned to every donator in proportion to their donation amount.

The Foundation explicitly states that the LSF Point is not an investment instrument and does not have a monetary value. The LSF does not sell nor exchange LSF Points to any fiat or digital currency.

The LSF Point functions as an internal ‘air mile’ type of governance instrument issued on the distributed ledger. LSF Points directly correlate with the donation amount, and donating parties can either utilise their Points or refrain from doing so. LSF Points facilitate and enable:

  • Direct voting or vote delegation;
  • NFTs that commemorate contributions. NFTs will be generated during each significant event in the LSF ecosystem;
  • Unique rewards once a certain amount of voting power is reached (e.g., individual consultations with the Visionary Board members and leading longevity specialists, access to podcasts with innovators, meet-ups with researchers);
  • Maintained confidentiality: LSF Point holders’ details will not be open to the public unless otherwise specified (note: regulatory bodies require identification with the Foundation as a whole);
  • Early access to longevity technology and treatments at later stages of Foundation functioning;
  • Full auditability of voting processes guaranteeing transparency in all funding decisions the Foundation takes.

The benefits listed above are deemed to be the most preferable for a variety of reasons and do not impose any development constraints on the funded projects while still maintaining donator engagement. This includes IP claims, future equity-stakes or obscure fractional IP ownership. Please refer to the section on technological implementation for more details about using DLT in LSF Point issuance and voting.

Innovation in strategic guidance and proposal evaluation


Driven by its vision of advancing the longevity industry and its commitment to an investment mindset, SMART strategy and donator-centric review process, the LSF combines strategic thinking with down-to-earth due diligence processes. This commitment determines how the Foundation defines its vectors of interest and pre-screens project applications.

Strategic guidance: the Visionary Board


The Visionary Board defines the scientific strategy and areas of funding interest for the Foundation. The LSF entirely relies on its Visionary Board Members’ combined knowledge, expertise, and multidisciplinary skill set.

Currently, the Visionary Board consists of six key opinion leaders (subject to expansion at later stages of the Foundation's functioning) from across the longevity and biotech sectors. Visionary Board Members provide high-level advisory input for all areas of the Foundation’s work. Its members are leading researchers in the longevity, artificial intelligence and biotech sectors from North America, Europe, and Asia. The six initial Visionary Board members have educational backgrounds from leading global institutes and are highly respected in their fields. Together, they have published over 300 journal articles and appeared in media around the world.

Visionary Board Members include:

  • Evelyne Yehudit Bischof, MD - Chair of the Board of Longevity Science Foundation, Longevity Physician at Human Longevity;
  • Eric Verdin, MD - President and Chief Executive Officer of Buck Institute;
  • Matt Kaeberlein, PhD - Professor of Genome Sciences, University of Washington;
  • Andrea B. Maier, MD - Professor for Medicine and Healthy Aging, National University of Singapore;
  • Alex Zhavoronkov, PhD – AI pioneer and CEO of Deep Longevity;
  • Michael Levitt, PhD - Professor of Structural Biology at Stanford University.

The Visionary Board’s primary functions include:

  • Defining funding priority vectors in each call for projects announced by the Foundation on a semi-annual basis;
  • Reviewing and shortlisting projects after their review by the Foundation’s due diligence team to create a final list of project proposals eligible for voting by Foundation donators;
  • Identifying possible risks associated with the Foundation’s funding activities;
  • Providing input and ad hoc support to the projects the Foundation has selected for funding.

Proposal evaluation mechanics


The Foundation acts within its primary areas of interest (as previously noted), as well as priority areas announced by the Visionary Board on a semi-annual project call basis. The critical steps in the Foundation’s proposal evaluation are demonstrated as follows:


Therefore, the LSF can combine both necessary elements in its proposal evaluation process– strategic input from the Visionary Board and an investor-style due diligence approach.

Additionally, the evaluation mechanism described in the chart above allows the Foundation to present a shortlist of projects that have been meticulously evaluated in terms of their potential 5-year impact, adherence to the Foundation’s vision and solidity of their scientific claims. By having a shortlisting process in place, the Visionary Board and due diligence teams essentially pre-vet the project proposals for voting, eliminating the risk of funding dispersion into non-eligible applications. Following the donator voting, the Foundation Board appoints the recipients of the funds and allocates the funds to the selected projects. Aside from that, the Foundation Board, with the assistance of the LSF team facilitates the overall process by taking on the following functions:

  • Organising project proposal pre-processing;
  • Accepting donators’ funds and providing them with access to benefits;
  • Administrating the Foundation’s assets;
  • Providing media support for longevity-related tech;
  • Designing, implementing and maintaining the smart contract system and the underlying blockchain;
  • Organising the annual audit review of the Foundation’s operations and reporting to the supervisory authorities;
  • Taking other actions necessary to pursue the goals of the Foundation.

LSF Points - the math of issuance


Microsoft Word - Guiding Statement.docxWhile relatively new, the Foundation’s founders built the organisation to ensure each stakeholder has a say in the direction of the organisation. The previously introduced LSF Points are used as an internal right-unit issued to Foundation donators and the Visionary Board. As explained earlier, voting power directly correlates with the donation size, and donating parties can either utilise their LSF Points or refrain from doing so.
The Longevity Science Foundation incentivises early donations, as demonstrated in the following distribution order for LSF Points:


  • First $10M funding milestone – donors receive x3 LSF Points to their donation amount.
  • First $20M funding milestone – donors receive x2 LSF Points to their donation amount.
  • First $30M funding milestone – donors receive x1.5 LSF Points to their donation amount.
  • All commitments after the $30M threshold will receive 1:1 amount of LSF points corresponding to their donation amount.


The Foundation reserves the right to award LSF Points to those who made significant contributions to the LSF’s work and helped the Foundation on its course towards achieving its mission. In such cases, the points would be subjected to a three-year lock-up period and transfer only through inheritance.

As presented above, the total amount of LSF Points that can be used and issued for voting is 2 billion. As the total funding of the Foundation increases, fewer LSF Points are allocated for donations of the same amount. The initial 200 000 000 LSF points are reserved for the Foundation’s founders, early supporters and Visionary Board, with a three-year lock-up period and transfer only possible through inheritance.

The Foundation explicitly states that LSF Points are not an investment instrument and do not have any monetary value. The LSF does not sell nor exchange LSF Points to any currency. It is an instrument of internal decision-making and governance. At different stages of the Foundation’s activity, the organisation reserves the right to use a portion of the funds committed toward its operational expenses. In its first year, expenses are estimated to be 30% and in the second year, 10%. In all following years the figure is expected to be 5%.

Software architecture


The Foundation has a high-level software architecture consisting of two parts: on the blockchain and off-chain (see Figure 1). The off-chain part is comprised of the following subsystems:

  • Proposal evaluation: implements the eponymous mechanics;
  • Assets: management of fiat and crypto-assets. This component receives donations, exchanges, donates fiat into selected projects and covers The Foundation expenses;
  • LSF Points: management of LSF Points. It allocates points to donators and the Foundation team, listens to the blockchain transfers and stores information on Points delegation;
  • User Identity: stores donator information for those that have passed the Foundation's identity-check;
  • Governance: management of processes, including the Visionary Board re-election mechanisms, system parameters values and their changes, and Foundation reports.

The blockchain component of the Foundation’s software architecture is a smart contract in a public blockchain. It accepts cryptocurrency donations, allows LSF Point transfers and secures Foundation reports. Ethereum is the primary candidate on which the Foundation will deploy the contracts. The general workflow is as follows, with differentiation for whether donators contribute either fiat money or cryptocurrency:

  • Fiat: Donator reveals their identity to the Foundation and donates off-chain. The Foundation reserves LSF Points for the donation, provides credentials to the donator and marks them as identified.
  • Cryptocurrency: Donator sends crypto-assets to the Foundation's smart contract in the blockchain. The Foundation approves the payment when the donator reveals their identity off-chain. Otherwise, the Foundation returns the cryptocurrency. The off- chain part adheres to the smart contract and allocates twin LSF Points off-chain.

LSF Point owners can send their points to any individual or organisation, exercising their rights to transfer point ownership. As mentioned previously, to vote or delegate points to another party, the Point users must undergo a Foundation identification process. The identified point-owners are provided access to the proposal evaluation mechanisms in a convenient and user-friendly manner (e.g., a web app).


Figure 1. The Foundation software architecture

Conclusion


The Foundation aims at tackling a range of issues currently present in the longevity sector by introducing a novel charity approach. The LSF’s early-stage research funding framework enables incorporating both short-term impact-driven non-equity funding philosophy and rigorous project screening guidelines while allowing for wider stakeholder inclusivity.

The decision-making logic of the Foundation is designed to be fully donor-centric. The donators are empowered through the usage of LSF points, an internal voting-right mechanism with which funding decisions are carried out. A team of longevity KOLs shortlists proposals and defines priority vectors, delivering a comprehensive set of funding targets, which then are reviewed by donors, who then execute their voting rights through their holding of LSF points.

LSF-point issuance and governance mechanism utilises blockchain (smart-contract) and the off- chain subsystems, creating a suitable ecosystem for accepting both crypto and fiat donations, maintaining donators’ confidentiality, and facilitating point transfer when required.

Longevity Science Foundation, thus, creates innovation in a fully donor-centric non-equity funding mechanism, which allows to close the funding asymmetry gap in longevity research. By putting its donors in the very centre of decision making, it provides unique motivation for their involvement and supplies the industry with a unique mechanism of bringing longevity-based therapeutics to wider adoption within the next 5 years.