Are Life Sciences Companies Going to Be Late to the Blockchain/Digital Assets Party?

Tracking the rise in government/institutional uptake, companies leveraging the ‘first mover’ advantage, and why the potential efficiencies can no longer be ignored.

As of this week, there’s been heavy reporting that the Biden Administration has prepared new guidance on digital assets that could be released at any moment. Most of these reports suggest that the guidance will be centered around directing government agencies to study the potential benefits of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), or tokenized versions of the US Dollar ($USD). These CBDCs have the capability to be minted on-demand and are programmable based on monetary policy set by the Federal Reserve and other entities. There’s other uses when paired with other digital assets that have the potential to improve and modernize the global financial system. 

In addition to asking governing bodies to research CBDC potential, the administration could also extend recommendations on how existing agencies and legislative bodies should approach regulating assets like Bitcoin ($BTC), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and other digitized financial instruments. This would allow for commercial use cases to move forward with regulatory clarity needed to ensure compliance. While all of this is taking place here, other countries have already begun their classification and implementation processes for digital assets. 

So, it’s no wonder that financial institutions and companies around the country have begun to partner with various blockchain-based projects to see how their business models can benefit from this novel technology. But with a large swath of cryptocurrency exchanges advertising during the Super Bowl, fashion brands dipping their toes into online interactive marketplaces (captured under the term ‘metaverse’), and art auction houses pricing their bidding trackers in cryptocurrencies like Ether ($ETH), it begs the question: Is the Life Sciences industry paying enough attention to the problems digital assets could potentially solve?

To put it bluntly, absolutely not. 

But at BioBuzz, we’re seeing pockets of meaningful adoption—often from new or growth-stage companies—that demonstrate the massive upside potential for being a ‘first mover’ and incorporating blockchain technologies and/or digital assets into a business strategy. The ones that are best positioned to capture that potential are the organizations that are finding the problems that actually benefit from a blockchain solution and leveraging that usefulness to deliver value to stakeholders.

One such team is IndyGeneUS AI, a genomics company in the BioHealth Capital Region creating the world’s largest digital blockchain-encrypted repository of indigenous and diasporic African clinical and genomic data. Their proprietary technology can detect novel signature sequences, biomarkers, and polygenic risk scores by integrating “multi-omics” data, electronic healthcare record (EHR) data, and textual information such as scientific manuscripts.

This organization is solving issues like trust in healthcare, patient-governed data management, and democratization via anonymized data sets. This use-case delivers benefits to stakeholders (i.e. researchers/developers and patients) through a federated model that empowers groups that are traditionally underrepresented to have a controlling stake in their own medical data – with the ability to share in its value through tokenization. 

It’s these types of companies that are set to benefit the most—the ones bringing new ideas into the industry with missions that can break down barriers and deliver better health and scientific outcomes by leveraging efficient systems. The biggest risk that large incumbents are overlooking right now is the ability for communities of passionate people to rally around these good ideas that deliver value while sharing in the very same value they’re delivering.

If this all sounds a little tech-heavy, don’t worry. BioBuzz will get you up-to-speed – we plan on building more strategic coverage of blockchain in the context of Life Sciences leading up to more widespread institutional adoption.

As with any new technology, there are growing pains in adoption – so keep an open mind. There are real problems being solved from the creation of better payment rails/corporate remittance solutions to improving biotech supply chain issues—and even tackling things like medical counterfeiting. This technology is ready to test its mettle in an industry that’s been reshaping itself throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic to take on the health issues of tomorrow. Blockchain will be a disruptive factor that creates huge financial savings, better transparency where beneficial, and more avenues for ‘competitive partnership’ in an industry that is historically more guarded against those types of relationships.

And stay tuned in the coming weeks as we plan to take a deep dive with the team at IndyGeneUS AI – highlighting how they’ve incorporated the most central theme of digital assets to solve one of the biggest problems in healthcare: TRUST. By tackling issues that matter with an unalterable tool like blockchain, they are positioning themselves to establish massive value for both their company’s mission and their community.