This week, Merck, a leading science and technology company, opened applications for the next round of its accelerator programs in Darmstadt, Germany, and Nairobi, Kenya. Merck is looking globally, seeking young start-ups with a digital approach in the fields of healthcare, life science and performance materials.
For the start-ups applying to the accelerator in Darmstadt, the opportunities provided by the program will remain unchanged. However, Michael Gamber points out some specific business segments that are of interest to the program in the upcoming year: “Our rough focus will stay on Merck’s key competencies in life science, performance materials and healthcare, but for this intake we are particularly interested in wearables, sensors, bioengineering and other solutions that individualize healthcare provision. The trend is increasingly turning toward individually tailored medicine.” The teams in Nairobi and Darmstadt will still have the option to extend their acceleration period via a month-long residence in Silicon Valley. This opportunity represents the possibility for the start-ups to test and prove their business model in the United States as well.
In this upcoming intake, the Nairobi program is implementing some new changes. The financial support for the start-ups has been raised from US$ 15,000 to up to US$ 30,000 and the start-ups are moving into our new workspace, Mettā Nairobi. Owing to the number of highly qualified applications in the last intake, Merck decided to expand its Nairobi program. The start-ups now are going to be housed in Mettā Nairobi, where the teams will have the opportunity to be part of a more international environment. Mettā not only provides us with a working space but also networking opportunities and events within its global community of entrepreneurs and innovators. In addition to that, Merck has doubled the amount it is providing the start-ups in the Nairobi accelerator program. Instead of US$ 15,000, the three selected start-ups will now receive up to US$ 30,000 in financial assistance. Michael Gamber, Head of the Merck Innovation Center, explains the changes in Nairobi as follows: “Due to the dynamic nature of the digital health market in Nairobi, we decided to invest more in the start-ups here and to link them up with a more global community. We also recognize that many start-ups here in Africa need financial support of a certain level in order to give them the opportunity to push their ideas forward.”
The programs in both Darmstadt and Nairobi will start on March 6, 2017, and will end on May 24, 2017. The application period will run from October 17 through December 19, 2016, via the accelerator website.
About the Accelerator Program in Darmstadt
The Merck Accelerator Program in Darmstadt supports early-stage companies that are focused on the fields of healthcare, life science and performance materials. The program primarily backs digital business models. Selected companies will receive office space at the Merck Innovation Center in Darmstadt, as well as mentoring and regular coaching from a pool of more than 50,000 experts from 67 countries. Additionally, they will receive financial support of up to € 50,000. AptaCam, Clustermarket, Cubuslab, and Fedorov are currently completing the program.
About the Accelerator Program in Nairobi
The Merck Accelerator Program in Nairobi supports early-stage companies that are focused on the field of digital health. Selected companies will receive office space at Mettā as well as mentoring and regular coaching. Additionally, they will receive financial support of up to US$ 30,000. The companies MedRx app, PreMedicus and VeriPAD are currently participating in the accelerator program.