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.

Watch the Video!

Creating the vision for ambitious dream products of global importance for humankind.

Garijo Belen Cut Out 600 600 Garijo Belen Cut Out 600 600

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 Protection (2019)
  • Health - Multi Drug Resistance (2020)
  • Nutrition - Food Generator (2021)
  • Energy - CO2 Conversion (2022)

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




Award area

2021 Ting Lu University of Illinois Equally shared: Food generation
2021 Steve Techtmann Michigan Technological University Equally shared: Food generation
2020 Stephan Sieber Technical University Munich Multi-drug resistance
2019 James Earl Crowe, Jr. Vanderbilt University Medical Center Equally shared: Pandemic protection
2019 Pardis Sabeti The Broad Institute, Inc. Equally shared: Pandemic protection

Prof. Ting Lu’s research focuses on microbial synthetic biology, which harnesses engineered gene circuits for programing microbial cell functionality. On receiving the prize, he tells us “As bioengineers, we are called to use science and technology in service of humanity by improving human health and nutrition. While we have generated exciting results, there is still a long way to go from concept demonstration to real-world applications. With the prize, we can pursue high-risk, high-return ideas that can be potentially transformative.”

Prof. Steve Techtmann’s research is in the field of environmental microbiology. “Inside microbes are gene circuits that behave as machinery for manufacturing. A lot of what we are trying to do is see how life exists and what we can learn from life in the environment and use that to solve problems like environmental contamination or food shortages. To be able to pursue interesting angles of research that can have major advances is something this award will allow us to do. I think that’s really exciting.”

Betz Freigestellt4 Betz Freigestellt4

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

Future Insight Prize Inventor and Manager


“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   
Angela Belcher Massachusetts Institute of Technology Linda Hill Harvard Business School  
Belen Garijo Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Lolke Sijtsma University of Wageningen  
Benjamin List Max-Planck-Institute for Coal Research Máire Connolly National University of Ireland Galway  
Brian K Kobilka Stanford University Manfred Weck RWTH Aachen  
Camille Delebecque Afineur Mary Voytek NASA  
Carolyn "Bo" Aldige Prevent Cancer Foundation Matt Rosseinsky University of Liverpool  
Catherine Havasi  MIT Media Lab Michael Jacobs Royal Free London NHS  
Chihaya Adachi Kyushu University Michael Obersteiner Oxford University  
Christina Smolke Stanford University Moritz Helmstädter MPI for Brain Research  
Christopher Milne Tufts Murray S. Campbell IBM  
Clifford P. Kubiak UC San Diego Nadia Tornieporth Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations  
Daniel Bausch London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Nancy Cox Vanderbilt University  
Daniel Nocera Harvard University 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  
Ferdi Schüth Max-Planck-Institute for Coal Research Robert Huber Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry  
George Church Harvard University Ron Fouchier Erasmus University  
George P. Smith Catholic University of America Ross Maclean Precision Value & Health  
Gerald Haug Leopoldina, German National Academy of Sciences Rudi Balling University of Luxembourg  
Gordon J. Freedman Dana-Farber Cancer Insistute Rudolf Aebersold ETH Zürich  
Hans-Dieter Klenk Institute of Virology, Marburg Scott Spangler IBM  
Hans-Joachim Zeiler Creative Therapeutics Segenet Kelemu ICIPE, Kenya  
Harald Seifert University of Cologne Shinichi Akaike NISTEP, Japan  
Helmut Schwarz TU Berlin Shyam Sankar Palantir Technologies  
Isha Datar New Harvest Stefan Oschmann UCB  
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 Cent Stewart Cole École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne  
James Le Duc University of Texas Medical Branch Subhanu Saxena Bill & Melinda Gates 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 Toby Bloom New York Genome Center  
Joao Monteiro Nature Medicine Tom Knight Ginkgo Bioworks  
John Gyapong University of Health & Allied Sciences Ulrich Betz Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany  
Kara Bren University of Rochester Ulrich Wiesner Cornell University  
Kenneth Drazan Arsenal Bioscience Valorie Aquino March for Science  
Kurt Wüthrich Scripps Research Institute Yang Shao-Horn Massachusetts Institute of Technology  
Lamia Messari-Becker Universität Siegen      

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