To better scout entrepreneurs, within the frame of the Merck Accelerator, we set up various satellite activities in specific startup hotspots around the globe. Founders and future entrepreneurs are invited to participate in our events, which take place in the form of meetups, Hackathons or summits. During these events, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to pitch their business models and the winners receive prizes and benefits, all of which have the objective of fostering future collaboration opportunities between startups and Merck.
Our current satellite activities are taking place in strategic startup and tech hotspots in Africa, Asia, and Europe.
We continue to build a diversified startup network in Africa and run several satellite activities across the continent. This network formed by startups, academia, technological partners, and investors, continuously allows us to be connected to the most relevant and best-in-class startups there. Our objective is to increase collaboration and co-creation with African startups and Merck’s innovation ongoing projects.
We focus on four key countries covering East, North, South and West Africa that serve as hotspots, where we scout for startups working towards the SDGs that represent the cutting edge of innovation in helping to solve real-life problems related to our focus areas. These hotspots are Kenya (Nairobi), Nigeria (Lagos), South Africa (Cape Town) and Tunisia (Tunis) where our presence and continuous exchange can become a gateway for startups to quickly explore and validate potential collaboration projects with Merck.
During 2019, our Joint Africa Startup Program in partnership with the Tech Entrepreneurship Initiative ‘Make-IT in Africa’ and HYBR saw around 240 applications from Startups. After evaluation, 20 teams were invited to the bootcamp in Nairobi, which resulted in 4 teams shortlisted after the pitch. Those selected then went to the South Africa Innovation Summit and finally to the Merck Innovation Center in Germany to participate in the Merck Accelerator final selection days.
In collaboration with H.Spectrum, a key biomedical startup incubator and accelerator in Asia supported by the Yonglin Healthcare Foundation of Foxconn, we set up in 2019 the H.Spectrum & Merck Innovation Lab in Taiwan.
The innovation lab is a workspace that fosters new ideas and product developments. Its environment helps optimize innovation, new perspectives and collaboration. Startups working in predefined areas of interest are selected and given the time and means to continue developing their idea. Eventually, after completing the program in Taipei, selected startups will have the chance to join Merck Accelerator events with the objective of collaborating with Merck at the Innovation Center. Additionally, the H.Spectrum & Merck Innovation Lab offers young talents and future founders the opportunity to participate in Hackathons to boost their ideas.
A network across Africa
We aim to create real change in the world and believe partnering with high potential international startups will help us to achieve this. The African countries of Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa offer promising innovation environments that we hope to tap into. We are proud to host a number of entrepreneurial events such as Hackathons and pitch days in Nairobi, Lagos, and Cape Town. These satellite engagements will not only enable us to foster our network in the African founders' scene, but also help us to scout cutting-edge startups for our Accelerator program.
For the first time in 2019 we set up satellite activities in the United Kingdom.