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

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