2021 Research Grants
Stimulating innovative research
In 2021, we are offering a series of research grants to stimulate innovative research in challenging areas of future importance. Grants of 40,000 € - 450,000 € per year for up to 3 years are available in the areas as further specified below.
- Drug Discovery - 3 grants comprising 350,000 €/year for 3 years with the option of extension.
- Real time testing and sensors - grant comprising between 100,000 - 500,000 $/year for 2 years with the option of extension
- Nanoparticle for nucleic acid delivery - grant comprising between 100,000 - 300,000 $/year for 2 years with the option of extension
- Digital Innovation - 3 grants comprising 40,000 - 100,000 € for 1 year with the option of extension
- Bioelectronics - grant comprising 150,000 €/year for 3 years
- Sustainability - grant/s to be negotiated on a case by case basis
- Media recycling for cultured meat - grant/s to be negotiated on a case by case basis
- Organoids - grant/s to be negotiated on a case by case basis
About the 2021 research grants
The research grants program is open to scientists in all career stages who are affiliated with any research-based institution, university or company. Applicants submit their application for the focus topics containing non-confidential information only. You may apply for more than one grant or submit your application for more than one focus topic. If your application is successful, you are invited to submit a full proposal under confidentiality and join a deep-dive workshop with the other finalists. All applicants are informed about the decision of the selection committee.
Submission deadline was 31 August 2021.
Deep dive Workshops
The deep-dive workshops will take place in November and December 2021. All teams reaching the next stage of the application for the 2021 Research Grants have been informed. Finalists will work together with our managers and scientists to jointly optimize submitted project proposals. The culmination of the deep-dive workshops will be the selection of the research grant winners.
Inviting proposals to identify and characterize the next game-changing molecule or technology to help cure cancer or autoimmune disease. What are new breakthrough enabling technologies for drug discovery, e.g. single cell sequencing? Which molecular targets or pathophysiological pathways have untapped potential to deliver the next big therapeutic breakthrough? Where is upside potential for other indications e.g. in antiviral activity and pandemic preparedness? How can translation and predictivity of preclinical models to the clinical situation be enhanced, can quantitative methods (e.g. PK/PD, QSP, AI/ML) enable this? How can our evolving understanding of senescence and age-related changes be translated into drug discovery approaches?
We are seeking research proposals that can substantially advance the state-of-the-art of in-line or at-line monitoring during the production of biopharmaceuticals with the ultimate goal being real-time release. Technologies may include: rapid microbiological testing for detection of bacteria, viruses, endotoxins (e.g. nucleic acid based, optical or spectroscopic technologies that can be validated); Sterile sampling: rapid, automated, flexible technologies for batch and continuous processes; In-line detection of protein aggregates that can be validated; Automated data processing technologies to support complex analytics that can enable electronic batch record creation (e.g. machine learning for mass spectrometry and chromatography data).
Various existing nucleic acid delivery technologies, such as (lipid) nanoparticles are ripe for innovation. We seek new technologies and approaches for novel inventive delivery vehicles and formulations, routes of delivery, and targeting strategies. Equally important is the impact of nucleic-acid molecular properties and formulation composition on subsequent manufacturing processes, storage conditions and in vivo stability. What innovative materials can be used for nucleic-acid delivery? How to go beyond the liver? What targeting methods can be used to deliver nucleic-acid highly selective to different tissues? How can the biocompatibility of such carriers be improved? What formulation parameters can be tapped to improve stability/storage?
Research Grants for Digital Innovation leveraging technological solutions such as digital pathology image analysis for advanced cell simulation, Big Data and X-Omics pipelines for single-cell RNASeQ Analysis and other applications of AI in R&D. We are seeking 1. proposals for a digital image analysis pipeline for advanced cell simulation to improve quantification of DAB immune-reactivity in FFPE stained tumor tissue 2. proposals for computational tools which specifically exploit RNASeQ data from treated samples to understand pathway biology and immune mechanisms 3. other applications of AI in R&D.
The Bioelectronics program aims to develop new medical devices for chronic indications with high unmet medical need. For us, Bioelectronics also offers an entry point to enhance treatment outcomes through digital interfaces which continuously gather and analyse multiple biosensor data. In order to extend our capabilities for this emerging field of Bioelectronics, we are looking for novel solutions allowing remote patient monitoring or proprietary biosensor technologies to support patients. Specifically, we are interested in patient management solutions for patients of multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic inflammatory disorders.
Cultured meat production processes currently rely heavily on technologies developed for the biopharma industry and will require new levels of efficiency in bioprocessing not yet seen in biopharma. Cell culture media represent one of the most important levers for process efficiency and thus the cost of final cultured meat consumer product. Recycling strategies have been successfully applied in many fields but we are still missing solutions to efficiently recycle cell culture media at scale. Proposals should address conceptual design, deployment strategy, equipment for low cost and efficient industrial scale cell culture media recycling systems that will promote efficient usage of nutrients and removal of toxic / growth inhibiting metabolites
Organoids are a three-dimensional construct composed of multiple cell types by means of self-organization and is capable of simulating the architecture and functionality of native organs. This area helps to understand human organ development, disease modeling, drug discovery and to investigate personalized medicine. It also shows superiority comparing to areas such as Patient Derived Cell Line, Organ-on-chip or Spheroid Culture Methods. Cancer organoids also reproduce tumor morphology and biologic properties and are easier to develop for commercial purposes. We will provide funding for innovative research projects of 3D cell culture solutions in the field of organoids with a focus on personalized medicine and pre-clinical drug discovery.
We are on a journey to develop and provide more sustainable solutions to guarantee future success and create lasting value for society. We focus on four key aspects: circular economy, digitizing sustainability, responsible & new resources and new bio routes to achieve sustainability in our own processes and enable our customers and stakeholders in theirs. Proposals shall target at least one of the above-mentioned key aspects and consider the social, environmental and economic facet of sustainability by proposing new sustainable products, technologies, sources, processes and business models. Your proposal should consider that we are a a science-driven organization active in healthcare, life science and performance materials sectors.
350 research grants
In celebrating our 350th anniversary, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany initiated a series of research grants to stimulate innovative research in challenging areas of future importance.