Future Insight Prize

Stimulating scientific and technological progress in the areas of health, nutrition, and energy.


At the occasion of our 350th anniversary, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany launched the Future Insight™ prize to stimulate innovative solutions to solve some of humanities greatest problems and to realize the dreams for a better tomorrow in the areas of health, nutrition and energy. The Future Insight™ prize will put the vision for ambitious dream products of global importance for humankind into the world and will trigger curiosity and creativity worldwide on how to make this vision a reality. We intend to give out up to EUR 1,000,000 annually for 35 years to incentivize people whose work has enabled significant progress towards making this vision a reality via discovering new ground-breaking science or via development of enabling technologies.

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Creating the vision for ambitious dream products of global importance for humankind.
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With the Future Insight™ prize, we aim to empower researchers tackling some of humanity’s most pressing global challenges in health, nutrition and energy.

Dr. Belén Garijo

Chair of the Executive Board and CEO of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

We can make it happen

The Future Insight™ prize puts the vision for ambitious dream products of global importance for humankind into the world and triggers curiosity and creativity on how to make these visions a reality. 

The prize will be awarded annually from 2019 onwards to honor outstanding achievements in science & technology towards a ground‐breaking innovation important for the future of humanity in the areas:

  • Health - Pandemic protector (2019)
  • Health - Multi drug resistance breaker (2020)
  • Nutrition - Food generator (2021)
  • Energy - CO2 to fuel convertor (2022)
  • Health - Pandemic early alert system (2023)

What do you think should be the focus of the Future Insight™ prize topic in the years to come? Send in your proposals at futureinsightprize@emdgroup.com.

Selection Process

  • A jury comprising experts from all over the world will identify suitable candidates for the Future Insight™ prize
  • Additionally, proposals for Future Insight™ prize candidates can be sent to the jury (no self-nominations)
  • Amongst all of these candidates, the jury will select the top individuals whom are invited to submit a formal application for the prize
  • The jury will evaluate these applications and select the winner of the Future Insight™ prize
  • The winner will be publicly announced and present their research at the Future Insight™ conference

Recent prize winners

Year Name University Award Story
2022 Tobias J. Erb Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology CO2 to fuel conversion CO2 conversion
2021 Ting Lu University of Illinois Equally shared: Food generator Food generation  
2021 Steve Techtmann Michigan Technological University Equally shared: Food generator Food generation  
2020 Stephan Sieber Technical University Munich Multi-drug resistance breaker  Multi-drug resistance
2019 James Earl Crowe, Jr. Vanderbilt University Medical Center Equally shared: Pandemic protector Pandemic protection  
2019 Pardis Sabeti The Broad Institute, Inc. Equally shared: Pandemic protector Pandemic protection  

"Our technology is not providing a single product or process. We rather believe that our synthetic biological approaches have a transformative character that will allow us to design different tailor-made solutions for a sustainable world of tomorrow." Prof. Tobias Erb, Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg, Germany.

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The Future Insight prize builds a network of innovators to enable the dreams for a better tomorrow.

Dr. Ulrich Betz

Vice President Innovation, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Inventor and manager of the Future Insight prize


“The Future Insight Prize is great because it sets a grand challenge and seeks a solution to societies greatest future needs.” Prof. Dr. Daniel Nocera - Harvard University

"The Future Insight Prize is great because it will foster scientific innovation in areas critical to humanity's future.“ Professor Martin Jonikas - Princeton University

“The Future Insight Prize in Pandemic Protection is great because it is a clear expression of commitment to society and global health.” Dr. Sir Michael Jacobs – Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

"The Future Insight Prize is great because it shows a 350-year old company is thinking about the next 350 years.” Isha Datar – CEO New Harvest

Future Insight Prize Jury

Jury Member
Affiliation  Jury Member Affiliation   
Ada Jonath Weizmann Institute of Science      
Alessandro Donato European Space Agency Lamia Messari-Becker Universität Siegen  
Angela Belcher Massachusetts Institute of Technology Linda Hill Harvard Business School  
Anthony Atala Wake Forest School of Medicine Lolke Sijtsma University of Wageningen  
Belen Garijo Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Máire Connolly National University of Ireland Galway  
Benjamin List Max-Planck-Institute for Coal Research Manfred Weck RWTH Aachen  
Brian K Kobilka Stanford University Martin Jonikas Princeton University  
Burkhard Becher University of Zurich Mary Voytek NASA  
Camille Delebecque Afineur Matt Rosseinsky University of Liverpool  
Caroline Dive Cancer Research UK Michael Jacobs Royal Free London NHS  
Carolyn "Bo" Aldige Prevent Cancer Foundation Michael Obersteiner Oxford University  
Catherine Havasi  MIT Media Lab Moritz Helmstädter MPI for Brain Research  
Chihaya Adachi Kyushu University Murray S. Campbell IBM  
Christina Smolke Stanford University Nadia Tornieporth Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations  
Christopher Milne Tufts Nancy Cox Vanderbilt University  
Clifford P. Kubiak UC San Diego Naom Slonim IBM  
Daniel Bausch London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Neil Hausmann Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation  
Daniel Zajfman Weizmann Institute of Science Nicholas Donofrio IBM  
David Bloom Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Orla Smith Science / AAAS  
David Solit Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Otmar Wiestler Helmholtz Association  
Dean Radin California Institute of Integral Studies Pardis Sabeti Broad Institute  
Deborah O‘Neil Novabiotics Peidong Yang UC Berkeley  
Don Cleveland UC San Diego Peter Hotez Baylor College of Medicine  
Esther Ngumbi  University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign Peter Piot The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine  
Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich Rafi Ahmed  Emory University  
George Church Harvard University Robert Huber Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry  
George P. Smith Catholic University of America Ron Fouchier Erasmus University  
Gerald Haug Leopoldina, German National Academy of Sciences Ross Maclean Precision Value & Health  
Gordon J. Freedman Dana-Farber Cancer Insistute Rudi Balling University of Luxembourg  
Hans-Dieter Klenk Institute of Virology, Marburg Rudolf Aebersold ETH Zürich  
Hans-Joachim Zeiler Creative Therapeutics Scott Spangler IBM  
Harald Seifert University of Cologne Segenet Kelemu ICIPE, Kenya  
Helmut Schwarz TU Berlin Shinichi Akaike NISTEP, Japan  
Isha Datar New Harvest Shyam Sankar Palantir Technologies  
Jake Yeston AAAS / Science Stephan Sieber Technical University Munich  
Johann-Dietrich Wörner National Academy of Science and Engineering, acatech Stephen Techtmann Michigan Technological University  
James E. Crowe Vanderbilt Medical Center Steve Jackson University of Cambridge  
Jaquelyn Francis The Global Warming Mitigation Project Stewart Cole École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne  
Jarryd Pla University of New South Wales Subhanu Saxena New Rhein Foundation  
Jef Boeke NYU Langone Health Thomas Südhof Stanford University  
Jean-Marie Lehn  College de France Tim Appenzeller  Science / AAAS  
Jeremy Nicholson Murdoch University Ting Lu University of Illinois  
Joachim Frank Columbia University Tobias Erb Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology  
Joao Monteiro Nature Medicine Toby Bloom New York Genome Center  
John Gyapong University of Health & Allied Sciences Tom Knight Ginkgo Bioworks  
Jörg Tremmel Foundation for the rights of future generations Ulrich Betz Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany  
Kara Bren University of Rochester Ulrich Wiesner Cornell University  
Katja Becker German research association DFG Valorie Aquino March for Science  
Kenneth Drazan Arsenal Bioscience Yang Shao-Horn

Massachusetts Institute of Technology  

All winners of the Future Insight prize after being awarded are invited to join the jury for subsequent years.