"We are confident that inviting such a diverse group of collaboration-ready startups can lead to outstanding partnerships. We believe that startups and a company such as Merck can mutually benefit a lot from working together. Partnering with startups, we connect with new external ideas while we simultaneously help them to take off. Bringing curious and expert minds together is a tremendous opportunity to create innovations beyond our current scope," said Michael Gamber, Head of the Merck Innovation Center.
The ten selected startups will join the Merck Accelerator for the program's three-month duration. For the first time since the launch of the program, some of the participating startups will also have the opportunity to extend their stay by joining the company's China Innovation Hub in Shanghai, which will give them the opportunity to access the Chinese market.
The Merck Accelerator welcomes startups operating in healthcare, life science and performance materials, as well as emerging areas such as bio-sensing and interfaces or liquid biopsy, which represent the Innovation Fields that the Merck Innovation Center is focusing on. This year's program includes, for example, Nextbiotics - a startup focusing on antibiotic-resistant bacteria and microbiomes: Nextbiotics is developing a biotechnology platform that engineers bacteriophages to target antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The startup envisions using its technology to precisely modulate the microbiome with applications in the prevention and treatment of infections for humans and animals. The other startup teams (please also check the adjacent fact sheet) joining the Merck Accelerator program are also working on solutions that could make a positive difference in people's lives. From affordable point-of-care diagnostic devices through intelligent solutions to developing 3D bioprinted skin, to even analysing patients' tumour samples in order to identify their level of drug resistance and determine the best type of cancer treatment.
The ten startups joining the Merck Accelerator in Darmstadt, Germany
Ourotech, http://www.ourotech.caOurotech is a Canadian startup that analyzes patients' tumor samples to identify their level of drug resistance and determine the best type of cancer treatment. Ourotech uses proprietary hydrogel that can culture tumors outside of the human body and replicate drug resistance inside the human body. In this way, testing the effectiveness of drugs and combination treatments eliminates the trial and error process involved in cancer treatment, meaning that patients receive the right treatment sooner. The team's first hydrogel, Genesis, can be used for identifying drug resistance on tumors with breast, colon, and brain (GBM) cancers.
NanosorBased in Germany, Nanosor has developed tailor-made multi-parameter biosensors that speed up research. The startup delivers a customizable sensor platform that is capable of multi-parameter diagnosis on objects ranging from ions to proteins and DNA. The sensor data can be read electronically in real-time through a compact device. Using economic production processes, Nanosor enables affordable biosensors for on-site monitoring of the environment and point-of-care diagnostic devices, producing life-changing results.
Hafnium Labs, https://hafniumlabs.comWith its headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark, Hafnium Labs develops simulation software to enable accurate prediction in chemistry research, helping pharmaceutical, biotech, and chemicals companies speed up the discovery of new drugs, materials, and processes. While lab experiments can take months, Hafnium Labs' software provides the world’s most accurate property predictions within minutes. Its predictions are ~10-100x more accurate than existing methods and represent the first method to provide prediction-specific uncertainty - a crucial element for researchers and engineers to trust predictions. The software is also much cheaper and faster than standard lab tests.
MEVIA, https://www.mevia.seHailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, MEVIA develops intelligent solutions for pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, and consumers to monitor medication adherence. The team's goal is to empower users to take the right dose at the right time to ensure that treatments are successful. Their products include the Mevia Pro, a reusable pill dispenser with a conducting circuit that breaks when a pill is opened; Mevia Go, a cellular device that attaches to each package and sends data in realtime to the Mevia platform; and Mevia Enterprise, which provides real-time analytics and exports data.
Next Big Innovation Labs, http://nextbiglab.comThis startup, based in Bangalore, India, is a 3D Bioprinting company that focuses on both facets of the technology - the engineering and the biotechnology. Next Big Innovation Labs has developed a global 3D Bioprinting platform that enhances the applications of this technology across industries. Using the platform, NBIL is working towards developing 3D Bioprinted Skin (InnoSkin®). The team has expertise in 3D printing, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals, and aims to develop cutting edge products that enhance and empower research and product development.
Dicronis https://www.dicronis.comThe Swiss startup Dicronis is developing innovative diagnostic products for diseases with high unmet medical needs. The first product in their pipeline, Lymphit, allows for the tracking of the lymphatic function in an easy-to-use, painless, home-based, and highly-scalable manner. Using microneedle patches, Dicronis delivers a fluorescent agent to the patient's skin and measures its uptake through the lymphatics via a wearable detector. The collected data are crucial in the identification of the best therapy strategy for the patient. The product has several potential applications: first of all, the team plans to address is the early diagnosis and efficient monitoring of lymphedema, a chronic and progressive complication of some cancer therapies.
iXensor, https://www.ixensor.comBased in Taipei, Taiwan, iXensor empowers data-driven healthcare by leveraging smart mobile devices, optical technologies, and advanced algorithms. The startup’s solution enables instant clinical tests for people with diabetes (HbA1c, glucose), cardiovascular diseases (lipid panel), and those trying to conceive (luteinizing hormone). The waiting time for test results is significantly reduced from three days to as little as three minutes, enabling on-the-spot advice for effective behavioral changes. In addition to making health check-ups more accessible in decentralized settings (e.g. clinics, pharmacies, private homes), it also allows the data to be synchronized to the cloud in real-time, making analytics and interventions easy and timely.
Nextbiotics, https://www.next-biotics.comNextbiotics has its headquarters in San Francisco, United States. The startup is developing a biotechnology platform that engineers bacteriophages to target antibiotic resistant bacteria. By combining bioinformatic tools with synthetic biology techniques, the team is able to identify the best bacteriophages within a library, thus enhancing their efficacy and stability. Nextbiotics envisions using its technology to precisely modulate the microbiome with applications in prevention and treatment of infections for humans and animals.
Levels Diagnostic, http://levels.bioThe Dutch startup Levels Diagnostic is developing a rapid diagnostic tool that allows general practitioners to rapidly assess the nature of an infectious disease according to whether it is bacterial or viral, thus allowing them to prescribe antibiotics only when necessary. The startup's tool requires just one drop of blood and a few minutes of waiting time - it does not run on electricity and can therefore be used anywhere in the world. The rapid diagnostic test developed by Levels Diagnostics does not only add value to the caregiver and the patient, but also to society as a whole by reducing the misuse of antibiotics worldwide.
MicroX Labs (Pratimesh Labs), http://www.microxlabs.comHeadquartered in Bangalore, India, MicroX Labs has developed a home-testing solution for patients undergoing chemotherapy or immunotherapy to monitor their cell counts, thus saving them frequent visits to the clinic. The startup’s technology measures cell counts from a finger prick using automated sample preparation on disposable cartridges combined with label-free analysis and proprietary sensors. Apart from the oncology market, the platform technology can be customized for a range of other applications, such as in cases of rare cell counts, screening solution for dengue fever and other tropical diseases, and to monitor cell counts in body fluids.
About the Merck AcceleratorThe Merck Accelerator program collaborates with startups that are working on Merck-related topics. Startups participating in the three-month program receive mentoring and in-depth coaching from Merck's Senior Management and access to a network comprised of over 50,000 experts from 66 countries. They also benefit from training and tailored coaching sessions, financial support of up to € 50,000, access to state of the art workspace and high-tech prototyping labs at the new Merck Innovation Center. The goal of the Merck Accelerator program is to establish partnerships with startups and launch joint innovation projects: partnering in innovation offers both Merck and startups the benefit of access to key markets and technologies.
About the Merck Innovation CenterComplementing research and development in the company's business sectors, the Merck Innovation Center supports the scaling of new businesses beyond the company's current scope. With its initiatives, creative working environment and culture of openness and exchange, the Innovation Center connects employees, startups and companies to create groundbreaking innovations.
About MerckMerck, a vibrant science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 51,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people's lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices - Merck is everywhere. In 2017, Merck generated sales of € 15.3 billion in 66 countries.
Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to Merck's technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck has thrived since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors of Merck operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Performance Materials.