Frequently Asked Questions


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Innovation Center

What is the purpose of the Innovation Center?

What is the purpose of the Innovation Center?

We want to actively shape our future and continue our growth course. Our Innovation Center is helping us do that. As an incubator within our company, it aims to develop entirely new businesses and technologies beyond the current scope, bringing together people, technologies, and skills from different areas under one roof.

How is the space in the Innovation Center divided up?

How is the space in the Innovation Center divided up?

The Innovation Center is designed for various types of users. It consists of a public area accessible to both employees and guests, as well as another area reserved for project teams. Find out more in the galeries on the Home page.

What does the Innovation Center offer?

What does the Innovation Center offer?

With the Innovation Center, we created a space where we actively ignite and develop novel thoughts and ideas to build sustainable new commercial business beyond our current scope.

Are there special fields of interest in which we aim to create new business?

Are there special fields of interest in which we aim to create new business?

By analyzing current mega trends, we identify Innovation Fields in which we see potential for new business. They provide strategic direction regarding the areas of opportunity on which to focus our activities. Our first Innovation Field is “Bio-sensing and Interfaces” and focuses on generating new, fresh insights into human biology and developing personalized therapies with the help of biosensors.

How can I participate?

How can I participate?

Employees across the globe can work with us – by submitting or supporting ideas, by taking part in Innospire or the Open Campaign or by applying for a Think Tank.

With our Accelerator Program and Hackathons we are reaching out to all innovators. We connect early-stage startups to our innovation projects or to our business sectors for co-development.

Is the Innovation Center in competition with the R&D work of your business sectors?

Is the Innovation Center in competition with the R&D work of your business sectors?

No. Whereas the business sectors are focusing on developing business sector-specific products and solutions, the Innovation Center is focused on promoting innovation between business sectors and beyond our current scope. The two complement each other perfectly – only by combining these two approaches can we grow successfully over the long term.

I have further questions or comments. Where can I submit them?

I have further questions or comments. Where can I submit them?

We consider all suggestions for and comments about the Innovation Center highly valuable and will of course be happy to answer your questions. Simply send an e-mail to innovationcenter@emdgroup.com.

Accelerator

Why is Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany doing the Accelerator program?

Why is Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany doing the Accelerator program?

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is a leading science and technology company, as well as the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. In fact, this year we are celebrating our 350 anniversary! Since 1668 our name has stood for innovation, business success and responsible entrepreneurship. With different ventures and programs, we promote in-house and external innovation skills. With the Accelerator, we aim to strengthen the entrepreneurial culture both within and outside the company in order to explore interesting technologies and trends, find potential collaboration opportunities, promote and connect talents and entrepreneurs as well as to realize innovative solutions.

What is the timeline?

What is the timeline?

The application period for the HQ Accelerator 2019 intake is open from July 2nd, until September 30. Afterwards we will have a rolling assessment of all applications and create a shortlist of the top 30 to 40 teams, which will be able to join our selection days in November. The selection days will give you the opportunity to interact with experts and to pitch your project proposal with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. The final selection will take place during the selection days end of November. The program will start in mid-January 2019.

What does the Accelerator program offer me?

What does the Accelerator program offer me?

The Accelerator offers access to the Innovation Center infrastructure and allows you to connect with our internal and external network, offering you the possibility to find the right partner to make your first deals and collaborations with. Here you can benefit from the vast experience of our mentors and gain valuable working expertise while cooperating with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, internal innovation projects. Besides workspaces, your team receives financial support of up to € 50,000. The Accelerator will mean a before and after to your startup.

How can I apply with my startup and which documents do I need?

How can I apply with my startup and which documents do I need?

You can find all the information at the application platform F6S starting July 2018 following this link:

https://www.f6s.com/acceleratorprogram2019  

How can I know that my startup is interesting for the program?

How can I know that my startup is interesting for the program?

Your startup is interesting for the program if it focuses on our industry sectors Healthcare, Life Science, Performance Materials, or other related fields, such as Bio-Sensing and Interfaces, precision farming or next generation foods, as well as other similar forward-looking ideas.

How many startups will be selected?

How many startups will be selected?

Our Innovation Center has space for up to 12 startups. In the past we accepted around 2-3% of the overall number of applications (300 -400).

Do you take equity?

Do you take equity?

No, however we do have two types of agreements that we enter into with the startup teams:

  1. A partnership agreement attached to the full 50k€ funding. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany will invest in your startup in the form of a silent partnership. This agreement would require that you enter into a profit sharing, less than 10% for no more than 7 years from the start of the program. We will have no say in the management of the company and see ourselves as coaches and sparring partners. At the end of the day, it will always be you who determines the direction. We do not get involved in operational management matters. Even though we do not take equity, we expect a token profit share for a limited time.
  2. A project-based agreement which has a limit of 30k€. For this agreement we provide a small contribution to support developments during the program especially if the proposed developments are linked to collaboration efforts with the company.

What happens in the Innovation Center?

What happens in the Innovation Center?

We expect your founding team to be present in the Innovation Center in Darmstadt. If necessary, we will support you with temporary housing for the duration of the program. At our Innovation Center all workspaces, meeting rooms, co-creation areas, Makerspace and communication technologies will be available to you. You will share the space with other project teams. Every team will be supported by a mentor from our senior management as well as external mentors. This mentor and the Innovation Center team can provide you with contacts to further internal and external experts from various disciplines as well as investors and other interesting partners. Furthermore, there is a curriculum with standard modules such as BMC and Design Thinking to give you the chance to challenge your idea as much as possible. The other part of the program are tailored workshops according to your needs.

What happens after the program phase?

What happens after the program phase?

On the Startup Day we celebrate the official completion of the program. The concepts and progress are presented to the top management of our Group as well as potential investors. Of course, our coaches will also be available to the founders after these three months. In addition, further cooperation or follow-up financing will also be possible. At the end of the three-month period, all participants become part of the alumni community and are invited to regular meet-ups such as the Innovators Club. They will also be able to participate as a mentor in all upcoming Hackathons, experts for new innovation fields or speakers for different innovation events. Since June 2018, we are member of the biggest Accelerator network GAN, which allows our alumni teams to interact with more than 90 Accelerator programs across the globe.

Do I need to be in Darmstadt all the time?

Do I need to be in Darmstadt all the time?

No, but we would like to have presence for relevant workshops, kick-off and demo events and important meetings arranged with internal mentors and our experts. However, we understand that you are running a business and it could be arranged to be absent for periods with no relevant meetings.

How do I get selected for the extension of the HQ Program in China?

How do I get selected for the extension of the HQ Program in China?

In order to maximize the objectives from both sides and to manage expectations, there are multiple sources which will be taken into account in the decision making:

  • Referral from the HQ team from the innovation center based on the readiness of the startup to explore the Chinese market and how the China Hub team could support the further development
  • Evaluation by our senior managers & experts in China which will include a formal (written) application and a Skype pitch.

Which criteria will you use to select startups for the China extension?

Which criteria will you use to select startups for the China extension?

Once you entered the HQ Accelerator in Darmstadt the startups that will participate in the China extension will be selected according to the fit to following criteria:

The industry focus in China will be the same as the ones in Darmstadt: (Healthcare, Life Science, Performance Materials and other emerging technologies). In addition, we will review the market readiness for China and the potential to develop a local industry partnership.

During China extension, does my startup need to move to Shanghai for the full 3 months?

During China extension, does my startup need to move to Shanghai for the full 3 months?

No, however the participation on the tailor-made extension program require at least two weeks to one month. Therefore, we highly recommend and encourage you to stay as long as possible to interact and strengthen the relation with our local experts to build up a collaborative project.

Is the China extension only in Shanghai?

Is the China extension only in Shanghai?

Our first China Innovation Hub is present in Shanghai (and surrounding regions such as Suzhou and Hangzhou). Therefore, most of the activities will be in Shanghai. In addition, you will have the chance to connect to our China healthcare headquarter in Beijing and another innovation hub site in Guangzhou.

Will I get additional funding if I am selected to participate in the extension in China?

Will I get additional funding if I am selected to participate in the extension in China?

There is no additional funding involved for the extension phase in China, since we are focusing on the development of a partnership in China and offer additional mentoring and local networking opportunities.

Will there be support on logistics (eg. Visa)?

Will there be support on logistics (eg. Visa)?

We will support with Visa application and the search for accommodation.

Can I apply directly to the full China Accelerator program?

Can I apply directly to the full China Accelerator program?

Yes, but note that there are limited seats for international startups and that the curriculum will be mainly held in Chinese. However, the working language during the interaction with our Chinese experts, network events with local startups and future collaboration projects will be in English. The extension phase after the HQ program will be completely held in English and require a previous participation on the HQ program.

When is each program taking place?

When is each program taking place?

HQ Accelerator in Darmstadt, Germany: Jan 14th – April 12th

China Accelerator in Shanghai: April 15th – July 15th

Hackathon

Why might I be interested in the Hackathon?

Why might I be interested in the Hackathon?

Do you like challenges? Would you like to have a better understanding of some of the projects that our employees work on? Are you interested in spending a day with other students and our employees, collaboratively “hacking” solutions to interesting real-world problems? Then the Hackathon is for you!

How will the Hackathon work?

How will the Hackathon work?

Students are presented with real-world challenges of current interest to Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany from across our different businesses. Each challenge will be briefly presented by a different employee. Participants then select which challenge they would like to work on. Teams will be formed and the hacking will begin. Our mentors will be available to help assist students, provide guidance, and answer any questions the participants might have.

At the conclusion of the 24-hour “hacking” period, students will prepare a brief presentation and introduce their solution to the audience. A panel of judges from both Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and academia will select the winning teams.

Throughout the event you will have numerous opportunities to engage with employees representing various parts of our organization from around the world.

Who can participate in the Hackathon?

Who can participate in the Hackathon?

The hackathon is open to any student registered at a college, university or educational research institute, as well as curious professionals who work in related fields. Application is open to participants at the undergraduate, graduate, or post-doctoral level.

Do I need to know how to program to participate?

Do I need to know how to program to participate?

No! A successful hackathon team requires a variety of skills: programmers, designers, engineers, business people, idea people… basically anyone full of enthusiasm and energy who is able to think out of the box with creativity to solve problems. You do not need technical knowledge to participate and you are not expected to come to the hackathon with prepared ideas.

Is there a charge to participate?

Is there a charge to participate?

No. Participation is free!

How do I get an invitation?

How do I get an invitation?

Fill out and send the registration form on our website.

Invitations will be sent out soon after, selection is based on assembling a diverse representation of skills, academic institutions, etc. Priority will be given based on date of pre-registration, so submit your registration soon.

What if I want to join with my team?

What if I want to join with my team?

That’s fine! Just please be aware that we will go through a matchmaking session on the first day of the event, so you should be open to taking on potential new members.

What if I don't have a team yet?

What if I don't have a team yet?

No worries. Teams will be formed in a matchmaking session on the first day of the event.

What will the challenges be?

What will the challenges be?

Be patient. We have prepared exciting challenges, but you need to wait a little longer to hear them. The challenges will be presented at the beginning of the event, so that everyone can work under the same conditions. Fair and square.

Can I sleep at the Hackathon?

Can I sleep at the Hackathon?

Yes. There will be a designated resting area. We will provide mats, you only need to bring your sleeping bag.

Who judges the teams?

Who judges the teams?

The jury will consist of our employees and professors from our partner universities.

What are the judges looking for?

What are the judges looking for?

The judges will be looking at how unique and interesting your idea is, how close it is to being a product, how creative your solution is and how convincing your pitch presentation is.

Will there be wireless internet access?

Will there be wireless internet access?

Yes, there will. You can bring an internet stick as backup if you want though.

Can I use any programming language or software package?

Can I use any programming language or software package?

Yes. Any language you feel comfortable with is fine for us. However, you should only use licensed copies of software. In developing your solution, you should not use content that is copyrighted, protected by trade secret or otherwise subject to third-party intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights, unless you are the owner of such rights or have permission from their rightful owner to use the content and to grant us similar rights. We recommend using only third-party works that are licensed through an open-source (for software), open-hardware (for electronics) or creative commons license (for all other works).

What do I need to bring?

What do I need to bring?

Please bring your laptop and a sleeping bag, if you want to get some rest.

What materials are provided?

What materials are provided?

We will provide wireless internet connection, Raspberry Pi’s and plenty of pens, paper, markers, and flip charts. If you need anything else, let us know and we’ll try to make it happen!

Who owns the rights to what we create?

Who owns the rights to what we create?

All projects will be under the Open Source BSD License.

What are the prizes?

What are the prizes?

There will be exciting, valuable prizes for the winning teams.

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