Biofabricated horn is passable as horn harvested from an animal, but it is produced using automated processes involving cells, proteins, and polymers. Pembient, the biotech startup behind this project wants to save Rhinos from illegal poaching by flooding the market with “bioficial” rhino horns, thus driving down the price. In order to do this the company recently turned to a blockchain-based crowdfunding campaign, by issuing its own Ehtereum-based cryptocurrency: the PembiCoins.
Artisans, carvers, and designers want to turn biofabricated horn into durable goods. Some possible end products include tiles, handles, buttons, combs, utensils, cups, cases, eyeglasses, and jewelry. In many ways, biofabricated horn is the ultimate bioplastic. Animal horn is the only real alternative to biofabricated horn. However, most animal horns are hollow. This limits the size and shape of the objects that can be carved from them. Rhinoceros horn is the exception as it is solid, but trade in it is highly regulated for conservation reasons. None of these constraints apply to biofabricated horn.
“We have modified microorganisms like yeast to express the proteins found in horn. We have also sintered such proteins into small chunks of horn using a 3D printing process. We are now working to produce larger, more resilient blocks of horn. We will employ a tissue engineering approach based on stem cells to grow this horn,” explains Pembient founder Matthew Markus.
In order to achieve its goals, Pembient turned to an Ethereum based crowdfunding initiative, issuing its own PembiCoins. A PembiCoin is a blockchain-based token that allows its holder to take delivery of one gram of biofabricated horn in the year 2022. A PembiCoin does not represent or constitute an ownership interest or share in Pembient. PembiCoins are created through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), which, in this case, is similar to a product crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. More specifically, the ICO takes place on the Ethereum blockchain and involves the exchange of ether (ETH) for PembiCoin (PBC).
“We have always wanted to run a product crowdfunding campaign for biofabricated horn to better understand market demand – says Markus “Unfortunately, the major product crowdfunding platforms on the web are organized around consumer goods, not commodities or ingredients. Additionally, their fee structures are expensive. An ICO does not suffer from either of these drawbacks.”
Ethereum’s smart contracts feature, its Solidity contract-oriented programming language, and the ERC20 token standard make it easy to develop and deploy the PembiCoin concept. Those eligible can participate by buying ETH on a cryptocurrency exchange. Coinbase, Gemini, Poloniex, and Kraken are examples of popular exchanges.
They then transfer ETH to an ERC20-compatible wallet (MyEtherWallet, MetaMask, Mist, and Parity all support the standard) and send a transaction containing ETH from the wallet to the ICO address listed above.
If, at the end of the ICO, Pembient determines that there is enough total ETH to safely convert it into U.S. dollars (USD) and create PembiCoins, they will do so and publish a full accounting of the results of the ICO on our blog. The total number of PembiCoins created is the total USD raised divided by the delivery price specified above, rounded down to the nearest whole number. The allocation of PembiCoins is calculated as the total number of PembiCoins created multiplied by total contribution of ETH divided by the total ETH received during the ICO.
One month before the delivery date, funders will be able to securely send their email address to Pembient over the Ethereum blockchain using PembiCoin as the interface. The company anticipates having an application on their website to help you do this. Biofabricated horn will be delivered Ex Works (Incoterms 2010) at Pembient place of business in King County, Washington, U.S.A. Pembient intends to biofabricate horn in one-kilogram cylinders (roughly 9.93 cm dia. x 9.93 cm tall). If the total quantity of biofabricated horn due to a funder is less than one kilogram, Pembient will deliver a single piece of horn of appropriate mass cut from such a cylinder.