Since 2018, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany hosts the Compound Challenge, a competition to identify the best submitted synthetic route for a given small molecule as determined by:
- number of synthesis steps
- obtained yield
- achieved purity
- feasibility of subsequent steps not performed
Anyone from around the world can register for the competition. After the registration deadline, all those registered for the challenge receive the structure of a small molecule and submit their proposed synthesis route within 96 hrs. All the submitted routes are anonymized, and all registered participants are assigned to evaluate part of these anonymized routes in a randomized manner. Based on the participants evaluation, the top 10 best evaluated routes are selected to participate in the synthesis phase of the challenge. The selected routes will be tested in a wet lab and the participants with the best route, as determined by the above criteria, win the prize of EUR 10,000.
Registration for the 4th compound challenge will open again in December 2021.
Who can participate?
Anyone from around the world may participate, as an individual or in a team where not prohibited by local or country law. Individuals or Teams may choose to opt-out of receiving the prize money if required to do so by their Organization. This challenge is not open to Health Care Professionals.
How does it work?
- Application by “Registration Form” and accepting terms and conditions.
- Submit your own (single applicant) or your team’s (team application) completed registration by filling out the “Registration Form”, and submitting to Open.Innovation@emdgroup.com.
- We provide the structure of a small molecule to all registered participants.
- Participants have 96 hrs. to generate and submit a synthesis route to the e-mail address provided by us.
- All obtained synthesis routes are anonymized, and each participant is assigned to evaluate several of these anonymized routes.
- We select the top 10 best evaluated routes, to be tested in an actual chemical synthesis with a CRO of our choice.
- The winner, based on the above criteria, will receive a EUR 10,000 prize.
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany will not attempt to commercialize any of the submitted synthetic routes.