The challenge

Ferroelectric nematic liquid crystals have extraordinary properties that could enable exciting new applications. Their existence was predicted in 1916 but first experimental proof was published in 2017. Read more about these materials here

In 2022, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany hosts the Ferroelectric Nematics Challenge, an application competition to identify the best potential applications of ferroelectric nematic liquid crystals: by technical approach and business impact

This challenge contains two stages. Sign up by 31 May 2022 [1] with your idea for an application of ferroelectric nematic liquid crystals and how you propose to demonstrate your technical approach. We then offer a free developer kit to the most interesting submissions (up to ten) for you to run your experiments. Your solution with initial results are then submitted by 30 August 2022 and you will be invited to present your solution. We will then score all submissions according to the judging criteria: business potential, technical attractiveness, team strength and strategic fit. 

The teams who submit the best solution with the best performance in the judging criteria subject to the terms and conditions of the registration wins a prize of EUR 10,000, with EUR 5,000, and EUR 3,000 for second and third place.

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is looking for identifying partners for this topic and participation may result in future cooperation. 

[1] Notification: According to the Terms and Conditions document, the organizer has the right to amend the deadline. We hereby extend the deadline for applications to participate (stage 1) to 31st May. 



Who can participate?

Anyone meeting the eligibility criteria of the terms and conditions of the registration. Registration is open to individuals or teams from around the world. This competition is not open to Health Care Professionals nor may participants be employed with a Health Care Organization. 

How does it work?

Registration is now closed.
  • Register by filling in the online application form and accepting the terms and conditions of the Ferroelectric Nematics Challenge. 
  • You retain any rights that you hold with the use case, any tools you use and publishing rights you may have.
  • Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany retains the exclusive right to make any press release or any kind of public communication about the competition and the winning proposal. 
  • Confidential details on project content will not be revealed.

Stage 1 is for submitting concepts:  

  • A non-confidential description of your application idea. 
  • A short description what kind of experiment you would suggest to prove your idea and what results you expect. 
  • What help you would need from us. 
  • Your comments on the judging criteria business potential and technical attractiveness. 

Stage 2: We offer a free developer kit for you to run experiments (up to 10).

  • You run your experiments and generate initial results.
  • You generate data and results and prepare a meaningful presentation.
  • We invite the top 10 to present your solution and work on a proposal how to continue the cooperation with our scientists.
  • Pitch your results to the judging panel. We will evaluate all submissions received subject to the terms and conditions of the challenge by the criteria: business potential, technical attractiveness, team strength and strategic fit. 


  • Business impact: Your solution may target large and/or growing markets, real needs and customer pain points or areas where no solutions are available or are being developed.
  • Technical approach: Your application may have the potential to be disruptive or contain clear benefits versus competing technologies with the potential for IP protection.
  • Strategic Fit: Your solution may have a good fit with existing capabilities of our Electronics business as well as the relevant markets.
  • Team strength: Your application may demonstrate a proven track record and scientific background in the field as well as the accessibility of technical infrastructure to perform the experiments.


  • Gold winner: EUR 10,000
  • Silver winner: EUR 5,000
  • Bronze winner: EUR 3,000

More information

Terms & Conditions Document link  
Research Grants and Challenges submissions portal and application form registration is now closed