The University of California, Berkeley, is cashing in on the buzz around NFTs.
Nonfungible tokens — called NFTs for short — are units of data stored on the blockchain that are unique and not interchangeable. As NPR recently explained, a $10 bill, which is fungible, could be exchanged for two $5 bills. An NFT is one of a kind, more like a barcode.
The public research university, according to a press release, is auctioning the NFTs for the patent disclosures of two Nobel Prize-winning inventions: CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, for which UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry; and cancer immunotherapy, for which James Allison shared the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
The university will continue to own the related patents.
“Someone might ask, ‘Why would I want a digital version of some internal university form?’ Because it represents something magnificent,” Rich Lyons, chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer at Berkeley, said in a statement. “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, where the basic research behind these Nobel Prizes came from, to support further research.”
The university will receive 85 percent of the auction price, while the additional 15 percent will go to Foundation, an Ethereum platform on which the auctions will be held. Some of the proceeds will also pay for carbon offsets of the energy costs of minting the NFT.