HQ Program

Join the Accelerator at our Innovation Center in Darmstadt, Germany and accelerate your business.

Our HQ Accelerator Program in Darmstadt

Collaborate with our company globally at our Innovation Center!

We are not classic accelerators. We are collaboration-makers. At the futuristic Innovation Center at our headquarters in Darmstadt, we support you from the very beginning. Get the right connections at Merck KGaA Darmstadt, Germany, and end up with a visionary partnership. Together we explore the unexplored and welcome your startup as part of our community of curious minds.  

Are you one of the collaboration-ready startups operating in the strategic focus areas we are looking for?

Over the course of three months, we will take your startup on a journey with high partnership potential.

Moreover, selected startups also have the chance to extend their stay in the Accelerator by joining our China Innovation Hub during three weeks.

Take a step towards becoming a multinational business and get connected to our global network!

We are searching for startups in the following fields:

Liquid Biopsy Technologies

Liquid Biopsy Technologies

Technological solutions to overcome unresolved challenges in the liquid biopsy workflow and in applications beyond cancer.

What kind of startups are we looking for?
We are interested in collaborating with startups in following fields:

  • Digital biomarkers for non-invasive disease monitoring or bioinformatic solutions supporting the post-analytical workflow 
  • Tools to connect existing devices or workflows
  • Solutions to reduce medical and experimental errors across the workflow 
  • Innovative solutions that optimize sampling logistics and quality assessment
  • Methods for the enrichment of relevant molecules

Bio-sensing and Interfaces

Bio-sensing and Interfaces

Our Bio-Sensing and Interfaces Innovation Field focuses on the interface between the biological and digital world. Around the world, healthcare costs have reached all-time highs, productivity of the pharmaceutical industry is decreasing, and drugs are becoming more expensive.

We aim to decentralize and democratize the healthcare model and empower patients to better manage their health with real-time remote monitoring to enable 

  • Medical treatment tailored and adaptive to patient condition
  • Measurement of and response to external stimuli and metabolic reactions
  • Outcome and value-based treatments in which drugs are only reimbursed when the desired patient outcome is achieved, etc.

For this reason, we are looking for bio-sensing modalities that can be used in a decentralized way, such as sensors in patches, VOC sensors, ingestible or implantable sensors, and sensors for mobile devices. They can also be used in data analytics, or the collected data can be utilized in compliance with regulations, for example. In this context, we are looking to partner with companies who can help make healthcare data tangible and manageable using novel data analytics to extract insights. We are also seeking partners that are active within our therapeutic areas of expertise, such as autoimmune diseases, neurology, fertility, oncology, cardiovascular health, and diabetes.

We are especially interested in collaborating with startups in:

  • Disorders/conditions with a high unmet need
  • Technologies focusing on analytes that are clinically applicable to a wide range of conditions or conditions with a low genetic determinate
  • Technologies focusing on sensor technology, particularly in which combinations of sensors can detect the same analyte in different ways or one sensor can detect many analytes 

Clean Meat

Clean Meat

Biotechnology required to produce genuine meat grown in vitro. This will enable the production of meat that is healthier, more efficiently produced, ethical, and environmentally sustainable.

What are we looking for?

  • Technologies that enable the economically viable, large-scale production of clean meat and seafood, such as animal component-free media, high-yield cell line development, industrial bioreactors or automation platforms
  • Technologies similar to tissue engineering and regenerative medicine that enable the next generation of structured meat products, such as edible scaffolds/biomaterials, 3D cell culture processes or 3D printing



Pharmaceutical and biological prescription drugs to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), infertility, growth disorders, and certain cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Our Biopharma business discovers, develops, manufactures, and markets innovative pharmaceutical and biological prescription drugs to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), infertility, growth disorders, and certain cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. We are interested in collaborating with startups in following fields: 

  • Next generation R&D
  • Patient journey
  • Biomarker discovery
  • Medical companion

Life Sciences

Life Sciences

Innovative tools and laboratory supplies for the life sciences industry that make research and biotech production easier, faster, and more successful. 

In the Life Sciences business sector, our goal is to solve the toughest problems in life sciences by collaborating with the global scientific community. In doing so, we aim to accelerate access to health for people all over the world. Our 300,000 products range from lab water systems to genome editing tools, antibodies, and cell lines, as well as end-to-end bioprocessing systems that support the manufacturing needs of both emerging biotech and large pharmaceutical companies. For example, the Life Sciences business sector created the first-ever commercially available cell line platform for faster, easier selection and scale-up of high-producing clones for making recombinant protein drugs. We are interested in collaborating with startups in the following fields:

  • Gene editing & novel modalities
    • Gene editing tools
    • Viral & gene, cellular and RNA therapies
    • Drug safety systems and models
    • Clinical viral manufacturing
  • End-to-end bioprocessing
    • Next generation bioprocessing 
    • Continuous manufacturing
    • Single-use disposable equipment
  • Connected labs
  • Food and environmental monitoring and safety

Performance Materials

Performance Materials

Specialty chemicals for the electronics and semiconductor industry, liquid crystals and OLED materials for displays, and effect pigments for coatings and cosmetics. 

Our specialty chemicals business is combined with our Performance Materials business sector. The portfolio includes high-tech chemicals for applications in fields such as consumer electronics, lighting, coatings, printing technology, paints, plastics, and cosmetics. Performance Materials comprises four business units: Display Materials, Integrated Circuit Materials, Pigments & Functional Materials, and Advanced Technologies. 

We are interested in collaborating with startups in following fields:

New materials & processes for:

  • Semiconductor devices
  • Advanced imaging & displays
  • Electro-optical devices
  • Electronic packaging & interconnects
  • Non-toxic inorganic pigments
  • Additives for coatings to modify the functionality of surfaces

Novel technologies for:

  • Human & machine interaction 
  • Deposition and patterning of electronic materials
  • Intelligent memory devices and storage
  • High-performance, neuromorphic & quantum computing
  • Small molecule extraction from plants and algae 
  • Biotechnically transforming ingredients for cosmetics
  • Increasing the yield of plant-based metabolites (GMO-free)

Your benefits: Collaborations and network


We are looking for strong business alliances and want to partner up with promising startups to build sustainable and successful business relationships.


Receive mentoring from members of Senior Management and our global network of over 50,000 experts.


Benefit from tailored coaching sessions and workshops provided by our Innovator Academy.


Use our rapid prototyping facilities with machines and tools to design and print in 3D, lasercut and much more.

Learn more

Inspirational events will connect your startup across a range of industries.


Kick off your startup project with up to €50,000 of equity-free financial support and access our investor network.

Access the Chinese market

Selected industry-ready startups will also have the chance to extend their stay by joining our China Innovation Hub Accelerator.


Team up with others facing the same challenges and build lifelong relationships.

How could our partnership look like?

  • First Pilot Projects
  • Customer / Supplier Partnerships
  • Licensing Partnerships
  • Joint Product Developments
  • Joint Ventures
  • Follow-up Investments

Darmstadt: Home to our Innovation Center

Darmstadt is a bustling city in the heart of the Rhine-Main region and home to our headquarters since 1688. It is regarded as one of the most important cities for science and technology in Germany. Darmstadt has several renowned scientific and technological institutions, the European Space Operations Center, and even its own chemical element, Darmstadtium! The city has also been named “Digital City” and “City of the Future” in recognition of its status as Germany's most promising digital location of the future.

Our Innovation Center in Darmstadt

3 Min

walk to the nearest expert. Your team & our experts are based in one campus to ensure effective support.


teams under one roof, surrounded by our innovation facilitators with access to our projects & events.


sqm of innovation space, with prototyping labs, a co-creation space, a recreation area and much more!

Are you ready to access the Chinese market?

At the end of the HQ program, some startups will be selected to participate in the Accelerator extension in China. During 3 weeks, startups will participate in a learning expedition in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. Through visiting major ecosystems, they will get guidance to access the Chinese Market, as well as insights on the local regulatory affairs and customers-base. The HQ Accelerator Program is therefore complemented by a tailored program organized by the China Innovation hub team, where they can test their business model and develop localization strategies.

Start your journey in our headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany and take your chance at getting access to the Chinese market.


When & Where

Applications for the next Merck Accelerator program in 2020 at our Innovation Center have closed. Check out the timeline to know what comes next:

  • August 25th: Application submission deadline
  • August 30th: Announcement of the top 50 startups. Be prepared to send a 3-Minute video request and a pitch deck
  • September 9th: Start of 2nd evaluation phase
  • October 18th: Nomination of top 20 startups for Selection Days
  • November 25th - 27th: Selection Days
  • December: Preparation
  • January 14th 2020: Start of Accelerator program

Stay up-to-date!

Click here to subscribe to our e-mail service and get news from our Innovation Center!


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