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 are we doing an Accelerator program?

Why are we doing an Accelerator program?

We have setup the Accelerator program as a platform to engage with Startups and facilitate collaboration.  With Accelerator programs in our headquarters in Germany and China as well as our Satellites around the world, we are looking for startups to partner up and collaborate with. During the Accelerator program the aim is to establish strong and sustainable partnerships which benefit both the startups and our company. Working closely together with startups gives us the opportunity to explore new markets, gain insights into cutting edge technologies and connect with innovative ideas outside our company. 

What is the timeline?

What is the timeline?

The application period for the 2020 HQ Accelerator has ended on August 25th. Now we will have a rolling assessment of all applications and create a shortlist of the top 20 to 30 teams. These teams will be invited to join the Selection Days which take place in our Headquarters in Darmstadt from the 25th to the 27th of November. During the Selection Days the selected startups will develop collaboration proposals, based on which the best 10 to 12 team will be selected for the next intake. The three-month Accelerator program will start mid-January 2020 and will end mid-April 2020. 

We highly encourage you to check back in spring to find out about application opening for the 2021 Accelerator program! 

What does the Accelerator program offer me?

What does the Accelerator program offer me?

Our Accelerator offers access to internal resources, the Innovation Center infrastructure as well as basic lab space. Being part of the Accelerator Program allows you to connect with our internal and external network offering you the possibility to find the right partner to start a collaboration with. 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. To support the kick-off of your collaboration project we offer a financial support of up to 50k€.

How can I apply?

How can I apply?

Applications are currently closed for the Accelerator 2020. We are currently reviewing applications and the final selection will be done in November. Stay tuned for next year´s application opening!

Is my Startup a fit to the program?

Is my Startup a fit to the program?

Your startup is interesting for our program if there is an actual collaboration potential between you and our company. We are particularly looking for startups which are active in our Innovation Fields, which are Bio-Sensing & Interfaces, Liquid Biopsy and Clean Meat, or in topics related to our business sectors Healthcare, Life Science and Performance Materials.

How many startups will be selected?

How many startups will be selected?

In our HQ Accelerator program we usually select up to 12 startups per
intake. In the past we accepted around 2-% of the overall number of
applications (565).

For our China program we were looking for 6 startups for the upcoming intake.    

Do you take equity?

Do you take equity?

We do have two types of non-equity-based agreements the selected startups can chose between:

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, of 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€ and is attached to specific milestones. For this agreement we provide a contribution to support your developments during the program especially if the proposed developments are linked to collaboration efforts with the company. The milestone-based funding can be used to kickstart your collaboration project with our internal partners. 

What happens in the Innovation Center?

What happens in the Innovation Center?

The HQ Accelerator Program will be hosted in our Innovation Center in our headquarters in Darmstadt. All workspaces, meeting rooms, co-creation areas, Makerspace and communication technologies in our Innovation Center will be available to you during the program period. You will share the space with our internal project teams and the other startups. Every team will be supported by mentors from our senior management as well as the Accelerator team. We will 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 specific training and tailored workshops, aiming to support the identification of the right internal partners to work with and the setup your collaboration projects. Apart from this, we offer you our Makerspace with a variety of prototyping facilities and tools (Different types of 3D printers, laser cutters and more).

What happens after the program phase?

What happens after the program phase?

During our Startup Day, we celebrate the official completion of the program. But that does not mean that our relationship ends on this day! We understand the three-month acceleration period as an introduction, where you get to know us and we get to know your startup. Most collaboration projects actually kick off at the end of the program or even after its completion. That is why we are trying to stay in close contact with all our alumni to further support and be able to follow up on future collaboration opportunities. We also invite our alumni community to regular meet-ups such as the Innovators Club event series in Darmstadt and engage them in various ways such as mentors in upcoming Intakes, 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. To make sure that you can be there whenever you need to, we are offering you support with finding accommodation for the duration of the program.

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.

We offer selected startups to extend their Accelerator program for 3 weeks in China. This will be as a learning expedition, start from Beijing- Guangzhou (Hong Kong as optional) -Shanghai, each city for a week including workshop and business meetings/corporate visits/startup community meetups. The expedition will end at Shanghai to join the China program Demo Day (same as Startup Day) with other startups in china program to demonstrate their projects in front of 150-200 audiences. 

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?

The global Accelerator will have in 2020 two programs running simultaneously from two locations. Both, the HQ Accelerator in Darmstadt, Germany and the China Program take place from Jan 12th until April 17th 2020.

Hackathon

Why might I be interested in the Hackathon?

Why might I be interested in the Hackathon?

Do you like solving challenges? Are you interested in spending a day with other creative students and industry experts, collaboratively “hacking” solutions to interesting real-world problems? Would you like to have a better understanding of some of the problems that drive industries like healthcare, life science or tech at the moment? Do you like free food? Then the Hackathon is for you!

What is the format of a Hackathon?

What is the format of a Hackathon?

That depends on the event! Most of our Hackathons last between 24 and 36 hours and go overnight, typically between Friday and Saturday. Also, most of them are co-organized with world-class partners like Microsoft, European Space Agency, Deutsche Telekom, Accenture, Amazon Web Services…

You might also find a Hackathon that lasts for one, or even up to three weeks. But don’t worry, you don’t need to commit all this time. For our longer lasting events, there is a kick-off and a final 24 hour-event, where you would need to attend. The kick-off is important to understand the challenges and form teams, while the final event provides you with the classic Hackathon atmosphere to really put your initial ideas into developed concepts. For the time in between, it’s up to you and your team how much time and energy you put into the contest, but you’ll have the chance to consult our experts as well.

Finally, our events can take place at our HQ in Darmstadt, or around the globe near you. In Darmstadt we might be able to offer more support and services than in other regions of the world.

How does a Hackathon work in general?

How does a Hackathon work in general?

Participants are presented with real-world challenges of current interest to our company from across our different businesses, or from one of our partners for this event. Each challenge will be presented at the beginning by a specific challenge owner. 

Participants then select which challenge they would like to work on. Teams will be formed, and the hacking begins. Mentors from Merck KGaA Darmstadt, Germany and from our partners will be available to provide guidance, give feedback, and answer any questions the participants might have.

At the conclusion of the 24-hour “hacking” period, students will prepare a brief presentation and pitch their solution to the audience. A panel of judges from our company, its partners, and academia will select the winning teams.

Throughout the event you will have numerous opportunities to engage with managers representing various parts of our organization from around the world as well as its partners. In many cases, these exchanges led to longer-term engagements with Merck KGaA Darmstadt, Germany: as a working student, full-time employee or collaboration as a Start-up.

Who can participate in the Hackathon?

Who can participate in the Hackathon?

The hackathon is open to anyone above the age of 18, either as a student registered at a university or educational research institute, or curious professionals who work in related fields. Registration is open to participants from all education levels and backgrounds, however you need to select one or more suitable skills in the registration form.

If you are below the age of 18 at the time of the event, please indicate so in the registration form and we can find a solution beforehand.

Do I need to know to code to participate?

Do I need to know to code to participate?

No! A successful hackathon team requires a variety of skills: programmers, designers, engineers, business or marketing experts, structured team workers… basically anyone full of enthusiasm and energy who can think out of the box and use creativity to solve problems. You do not need deep 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 mark it clearly during the registration period and you would need each member of the team to register separately. Also, 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?

Stay tuned! For each Hackathon, we prepare new exciting challenges and we might teaser them on the event page already. However, the challenges will be presented in full detail at the beginning of the event, so that everyone can work under the same conditions. Fair and square.

Can I sleep and/or shower at the Hackathon?

Can I sleep and/or shower at the Hackathon?

Yes. There will be designated resting areas, as well as several showers available in our Innovation Center. You only need to bring your sleeping bag and a mat.

Who judges the teams?

Who judges the teams?

The jury will consist of a mix of neutral managers from our company and representatives from our event partners as well as 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 become an actual product or start-up, how creative your solution is and how convincing your pitch presentation is. We transparently share all evaluation criteria with you at the beginning of each event.

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. There will be no option of LAN access 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 our company 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).

Depending on the event, we might offer you a platform that supports only certain languages or restricts 3rd party software.

What do I need to bring?

What do I need to bring?

Please bring your laptop, chargers, and a sleeping bag, if you want to get some rest. Also, don’t forget your positive attitude and an open mind!

What materials are provided?

What materials are provided?

We will provide wireless internet connection, Raspberry Pi’s, screens and MS Surface Hubs as well as plenty of pens, paper, markers, and white boards. The Makerspace of the our Innovation Center also offers access to 3D printers, laser cutters and much more. If you need anything else, let us know at the registration and we’ll try to make it happen!

Food, coffee and other drinks will be provided throughout the event, of course.

What are the prizes?

What are the prizes?

Prizes are different in every event. Usually, on top of your learning journey, free food, and a great experience, the cash and hardware prizes will make it worth your while.

What happens afterwards?

What happens afterwards?

We strongly believe that a Hackathon should be more than just a 24-hour innovation event that ends after your pitch. We see it as the start of a journey. 

One could be your own entrepreneurial journey, where the Hackathon was a kick-start for the idea, another one could be a joint collaboration project with Merck, where the problem that you solved actually has to be implemented. In many cases, participating in one of our Hackathons led to longer-term engagements with Merck: as a working student, full-time employee or collaboration as a startup.

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