Getting to Know Albert Anis From ValleyDAO


Tell us about yourself - What did you do before ValleyDAO? How did you get into synthetic biology? What did you study and where?

I’ve always been interested and fascinated by science and engineering. After having failed several biology exams in high school, I ran off and isolated myself in a forest cabin for two days only to study for the exam. Focusing strictly on studying for my biology exam while simultaneously immersing myself in nature resulted in a breakthrough moment where biology all of sudden made a lot of  sense to me, I remember it very clearly. After graduating high school I started studying biotechnology at Lund University. During that time, I got into synthetic biology through a student competition called iGEM where the goal was to put together a student team, brainstorm your own project idea, get into the lab and start doing the work. This competition stretches over a year and culminates in Boston where university teams from all over the world get together to present and compete with their projects in front of judges.  Partaking in iGEM, working deeply with a project for a longer duration of time and seeing around 300 different student projects all tackling problems in food, health and sustainability makes you realize the potential of synthetic biology as a core manufacturing technology. The same way computer science changed our relationship with information processing, so is synthetic biology in terms of building with atoms by making biology programmable.

When did your DeSci/Web3 journey start and how?

It was actually at a bar during the days of the HelloTomorrow conference. We were talking about crypto and how it could support synthetic biology in different ways, particularly for funding research. Someone suggested I check out a Discord server called ‘DeSci Nerdery’. Once I landed there I quickly discovered and explored the world of DeSci. VitaDAO was the project that stood out the most for me because I’ve had the idea earlier of pooling capital through crypto communities to directly fund research instead of buying superficial pictures of apes that ultimately won't make the world a better place. In the Discord I introduced my ideas of building a DeSci synthetic biology research community and was quickly recommended by Joshua Foreman to talk with a Tyler guy from Molecule that had the last name of Italian ice cream. He introduced me to VitaDAO, its details, its opportunities and the challenges of creating such a project. That kind of started the discovery process for me in terms of architecting ValleyDAO. There was very little documentation back then, only Medium articles and Discord conversations. 

What are the biggest challenges you faced in building a BioDAO and how did you overcome them?

The lack of documentation and frameworks. I scraped the VitaDAO Discord server for all its messages because that was the only successful DeSci project back then. If they had gotten things right, then that means that the blueprint should be somewhere amongst the Discord messages. I started reading conversation history from day one in order to understand the DAO structure and how they were onboarding scientists to this new platform for research funding. Fortunately, we have today that can directly help you if you’re developing a BioDAO.

To initiate the community building aspect, I started sending out messages about my work in different DeSci Discord servers. Eventually, I gathered enough interest from people and we started having weekly brainstorming and work meetings. This later crystallized into a dedicated Discord server and  litepaper that was reshared by all of us and our networks. Eventually, we started picking up steam, had a PoC community, onboarded an advisory board and started our first academic research collaborations.

How did you get to know about and why did you decide to join?

To be honest, came to us, we never approached the accelerator. It’s quite understandable given that at the time we were one of the earliest and most active BioDAOs together with VitaDAO, PsyDAO and HairDAO.

What is the most exciting thing about and what would you say to others who want to join the program?

For me it's two things, access to experts and funding. The team is really talented and have a proven track record of creating BioDAOs in the past. This helped ValleyDAO in getting a clear sense of direction. Secondly, the funding from allowed myself and other core members to start working on ValleyDAO full-time. Going full-time enabled us to not only build the project more efficiently but also more intentionally by setting very clear goals of where we wanted ValleyDAO to be in 5, 10 and 20 years time.

DeSci has been one of the best decisions in my career so far.

What advice do you have for individuals and organizations looking to join DeSci and contribute to its mission?

The best way to learn is by joining the community and start contributing to an existing project that you’re inspired by. Be curious.

What does ValleyDAO do and how has ValleyDAO been involved in the development and growth of the biotech and DeSci community at large?

ValleyDAO is a decentralised and community-owned synbio innovation ecosystem. The DAO is committed to advance the field of climate and food synthetic biology that can help us transition to a more circular economy. ValleyDAO's goal is to facilitate the coordination of funding, expertise, and partnerships, with the aim of efficiently translating high-impact synbio research into sustainable products and services. By architecting ValleyDAO as a transparent, easy-to-access, and incentivizing ecosystem, powerful network effects emerge where individuals, companies and organisations can come together to share research data, IP, infrastructure and commercial expertise. This will ultimately lead to faster and more efficient translation of synbio research into products and services that benefit society as a whole - for the case of ValleyDAO these solutions will focus on solving climate and food security problems.

We’re currently focusing our efforts on three academic research projects:

  • Sustainable palm oil production with microbes with Dr. Rodrigo Ledesma Amaro, Imperial College London. Palm oil production is known for its environmental burden and ethically questionable conditions for the farmers. Microbes, such as yeast can efficiently produce an alternative palm oil with similar properties using 90% less land use and without having to rely on weather conditions. This manufacturing process is very similar to the production of beer. ValleyDAO aims to fund Rodrigo’s project right after our genesis token auction in April.
  • High-performance fluorinated biomaterials with Prof. Pablo Nikel & Mariela Mezzina, Technical University of Denmark. Fluorinated materials are heavily used in industry for their ability to resist heat, moisture and chemical degradation. However, current F-materials are toxic and end up in our waters and ultimately inside our bodies. Nikel’s group has developed a technology that can produce biobased alternatives to these materials. We’ve been working with them to spin-out a startup based on this technology through recruitment of missing skillsets, development of a business plan, licensing of the IP from the university, and fundraising. 
  • SynbioCAD: A Techbio Software for Accelerated Synbio Workflows with Jean-Loup Faulon & Joan Hérisson, University d’Evry and INRAE.  SynbioCAD is a software that helps scientists design ways to produce useful substances like medicine or biofuels using living organisms. The program can save scientists a lot of time by automating many of the steps involved in the design process, from selecting the best organisms to use, to creating the genetic instructions that the organisms will follow. We’ve been working with them to spin-out a startup based on this technology. We’ve also been working with them to spin-out a startup based on this technology through recruitment of a CEO and CBO, designing a customer discovery process, and evaluating the IP.

To learn more about ValleyDAO, apply for funding or start contributing visit their website and join the conversation on their Discord. See their pitch at our upcoming Demo Day here.