Merck announced the ten startups that will be joining the seventh intake of its Accelerator program. The program collaborates with startups that are working on Merck-related topics in the fields of healthcare, life science, performance materials, and in emerging areas such as bio-sensing, interfaces, or liquid biopsy. Startups participating in the three-month program receive mentoring and coaching from Merck’s Senior Management and access to a network comprised of over 50,000 experts from 66 countries. They also benefit from training and tailored coaching sessions, financial support of up to € 50,000, access to state of the art workspace and high-tech prototyping labs at the Merck Innovation Center in Darmstadt, Germany. The goal is to establish partnerships with startups and launch joint innovation projects.
This year’s teams come from nine different countries. They were chosen from a total of 565 applications, coming from startups based in 68 countries. For the first time since the launch of the program, some of the participating startups will also have the opportunity to extend their stay by joining the company’s China Innovation Hub in Shanghai, which will give them the opportunity to access the Chinese market.
The ten startups:
- Ourotech from Canada analyzes patients’ tumor samples to identify their level of drug resistance and determine the best type of cancer treatment. Ourotech uses proprietary hydrogel that can culture tumors outside of the human body and replicate drug resistance inside the human body. In this way, testing the effectiveness of drugs and combination treatments eliminates the trial and error process involved in cancer treatment, meaning that patients receive the right treatment sooner. The team’s first hydrogel, Genesis, can be used for identifying drug resistance on tumors with breast, colon, and brain (GBM) cancers.
- Nanosor from Germany has developed tailor-made multi-parameter biosensors that speed up research. The customizable sensor platform is capable of multi-parameter diagnosis on objects ranging from ions to proteins and DNA. The sensor data can be read electronically in real-time through a compact device. Using economic production processes, Nanosor enables affordable biosensors for on-site monitoring of the environment and point-of-care diagnostic devices, producing life-changing results.
- Hafnium Labs from Denmark develops simulation software for accurate prediction in chemistry research, helping pharmaceutical, biotech, and chemicals companies speed up the discovery of new drugs, materials, and processes. While lab experiments can take months, Hafnium Labs’ software provides accurate property predictions within minutes. Its predictions are ~10-100x more accurate than existing methods and represent the first method to provide prediction-specific uncertainty—a crucial element for researchers and engineers to trust predictions. The software is also much cheaper and faster than standard lab tests
- MEVIA Hailing from Sweden develops intelligent solutions for pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, and consumers to monitor medication adherence. The team’s goal is to empower users to take the right dose at the right time to ensure that treatments are successful. Their products include the Mevia Pro, a reusable pill dispenser with a conducting circuit that breaks when a pill is opened; Mevia Go, a cellular device that attaches to each package and sends data in realtime to the Mevia platform; and Mevia Enterprise, which provides real-time analytics and exports data.
- Next Big Innovation Labs from India is a 3D Bioprinting company that focuses on both facets of the technology—the engineering and the biotechnology. Next Big Innovation Labs has developed a global 3D Bioprinting platform that enhances the applications of this technology across industries. Using the platform, NBIL is working towards developing 3D Bioprinted Skin (InnoSkin®). The team has expertise in 3D printing, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals, and aims to develop cutting edge products that enhance and empower research and product development.
- Dicronis from Switzerland is developing diagnostic products for diseases with high unmet medical needs. The first product in their pipeline, Lymphit, allows for the tracking of the lymphatic function in an easy-to-use, painless, home-based, and highly-scalable manner. Using microneedle patches, Dicronis delivers a fluorescent agent to the patient’s skin and measures its uptake through the lymphatics via a wearable detector. The collected data are crucial in the identification of the best therapeutic strategy for the patient. The product has several potential applications such as to address is the early diagnosis and efficient monitoring of lymphedema, a chronic and progressive complication of some cancer therapies.
- iXensor from Taiwan empowers data-driven healthcare by leveraging smart mobile devices, optical technologies, and advanced algorithms. The startup’s solution allows instant clinical tests for people with diabetes (HbA1c, glucose), cardiovascular diseases (lipid panel), and those trying to conceive (luteinizing hormone). The waiting time for test results is reduced from three days to as little as three minutes, enabling on-the-spot advice for effective behavioral changes. In addition to making health check-ups more accessible in decentralized settings (e.g., clinics, pharmacies, private homes), it also allows the data to be synchronized to the cloud in real-time, making analytics and interventions easy and timely.
- Nextbiotics from the United States is developing a biotechnology platform that engineers bacteriophages to target antibiotic-resistant bacteria. By combining bioinformatic tools with synthetic biology techniques, the team is able to identify the best bacteriophages within a library, thus enhancing their efficacy and stability. Nextbiotics wants to use its technology to precisely modulate the microbiome with applications in the prevention and treatment of infections for humans and animals.
- Levels Diagnostic from The Netherlands is developing a rapid diagnostic tool that allows general practitioners to rapidly assess the nature of an infectious disease according to whether it is bacterial or viral, thus allowing them to prescribe antibiotics only when necessary. The startup’s tool requires just one drop of blood and a few minutes of waiting time—it does not run on electricity and can, therefore, be used anywhere in the world. The rapid diagnostic test adds value to the caregiver and the patient and to society as a whole by reducing the misuse of antibiotics worldwide.
- MicroX Labs (Pratimesh Labs) from India has developed a home-testing solution for patients undergoing chemotherapy or immunotherapy to monitor their cell counts, thus saving them frequent visits to the clinic. The startup’s technology measures cell counts from a finger prick using automated sample preparation on disposable cartridges combined with label-free analysis and proprietary sensors. Apart from the oncology market, the platform technology can be customized for a range of other applications, such as in cases of rare cell counts, screening solution for dengue fever and other tropical diseases, and to monitor cell counts in body fluids.
- Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany