Nature Research, part of publisher Springer Nature, has partnered with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company, to create an award for early stage spinoffs* from around the world. The award aims to increase the visibility and support academic entrepreneurs and their companies. Recently formed spinoff companies founded on research carried out at universities and research institutes worldwide are invited to apply. The judging panel will look for spinoffs that translate original, high-quality scientific research into products and services that address market problems and are well positioned to make a positive impact on society.
In its first year, The Spinoff Prize will focus on companies commercialising research in four broad categories: pharmaceuticals, agriculture, chemicals and digital technologies. A longlist of highly commended spinoffs will be profiled in a special report published in Nature. Shortlisted spinoffs will pitch in front of a live audience during the Curious Future Insight Conference 2020, after which one winner will receive a €30,000 cash prize. The deadline for applications is 28 February 2020.
Richard Hughes, VP, Publishing, Nature Research Partnerships, said: "The formation of spinoffs by universities drives local and national economic growth, and provides solutions to real-world problems. Yet for the benefits that spinoffs bring, there is currently no widely recognised, international showcase of spinoff excellence, and we would like to build one. We're delighted to be launching The Spinoff Prize with our trusted partners, Merck and hope entrepreneurs will find participation in the competition to be valuable."
Ulrich Betz, VP Innovation Merck said: „We are proud to have Nature Research's The Spinoff Prize as an important addition to the Curious Future Insight Conference, one of the world's most renowned events on the future of science and technology, initiated at the occasion of Merck's 350th anniversary."
Applications will be judged by a panel of experts that includes editorial staff from Nature Research, senior representatives of Merck and its corporate venture arm M Ventures, as well as independent experts. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to pitch in a slam competition during the Curious2020 - Future Insight Conference in Darmstadt, Germany. The first winners of The Spinoff Prize will be awarded during this conference.
*The term spinoff in this case refers to a company that has been formed specifically to commercialise the outputs generated from research conducted at a university or research institute.
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Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 56,000 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 - the company is everywhere. In 2018, Merck generated sales of € 14.8 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.