The startups for the fourth round of Merck Accelerator Program in Darmstadt and the third round in Nairobi are primed and ready to begin their residency at the Merck Innovation Center. The selected teams will be spending the next three months working on disruptive innovations in the fields of Healthcare, Life Science and Performance Materials. Each startup will get up to 50,000 € in funding, and individual mentoring and coaching from several internal and external experts.
“Selecting this round of startups was an especially difficult task”, reports the Merck accelerator team in a blogpost. The selection pool increased by 82% over last year’s, with applicants from over 70 countries. In the end, seven startups were selected. The topics in Darmstadt vary from solutions from the future of advertising to gamification in oncology. In Nairobi, the teams are tackling issues like data management for global health supply chains and artificial intelligence programs for detecting counterfeit drugs.
One of the selected companies is the Swiss start-up Ectica Technologies. The team from Zurich led by Benjamin Simona and Vincent Milleret (Picture right to left) develops hydrogel-based laboratory products, such as the 3DProSeed plate that enables pharma companies, CROs (Contract Research Organizations) and academic labs to carry out preclinical drug discovery on a new level. Drug research at the moment is mostly conducted on 2D cell cultures, but they differ from human tissues significantly and can give distorted results. The hydrogel-based consumable products by Ectica Technologies allow researchers to create a 3D cell culture for cell-based assays that closely emulate the normal conditions of cell cultures in the human body.