Merck, based in Darmstadt, Germany is presenting the second Displaying Futures Award to foster young entrepreneurs. The aim of this year’s call for proposals is to identify flexible applications in the field of hybrid electronics. The number of ideas submitted rose from 31 to 69, submitted by creative minds from 22 countries. The ten best teams gathered for the event to pitch their ideas in Darmstadt on June 23, 2017. The winning teams have devoted themselves to future-oriented technologies, such as wearable biomonitoring devices, soft robotics, electronic sensors, or packaging. The Displaying Futures Award is again worth a total of US$ 150,000.
According to Merck PR Team on June 26, Dieter Schroth, who initiated the award and is responsible for innovative liquid crystal applications in the Display Materials business unit, said, “We’re highly impressed by the second round of the award. Both the multitude of submitted applications and the significant increase in quality confirm that we’re on the right track. We’re also very proud of the wide range of topics that will involve all business sectors at Merck and their expertise.”
Merck did not look for start-ups that had already been launched, but searched for teams from university or institutional settings. At the end of the event, a Merck jury consisting of various specialists from all areas of the company chose three winning teams. The winners were evaluated based on the criteria of novelty, business potential, and impacts on society and the environment.
The following three ideas were rewarded:
• FloPatch from KE2 Technologies, Canada, is a disposable wearable patch for the non-invasive real-time monitoring of blood flow based on ultrasound technology. The sensor is applied to determine the effectiveness of emergency interventions within seconds, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation compressions and fluid responsiveness.
• Tangi0 from the United Kingdom is a materials-based platform technology that replaces complex electronic sensors with one flexible touch-sensitive material combined with smart software algorithms, producing 3D controls that are ergonomic, intuitive and engaging.
• Texavie from Canada has developed a nanofiber sensor technology for thin and lightweight sensing skin used in patches or smart textile. This technology delivers a revolutionary solution for advanced AR/VR interaction as well as wearable health monitoring and soft robotics.
In addition to financial support, for one year the winners of the Displaying Futures Awards will receive training, exclusive mentoring from experts within and outside of Merck, and access to a global network. This year, the jury decided again to support each of the winning teams with US$ 50,000. The Displaying Futures Awards 2017 cycle will end in June 2018 with an event to pitch their ideas to investors.
As part of its innovation strategy, Merck specifically focuses on international exchanges with young entrepreneurs who are working on future-oriented business ideas. In addition to formats such as the Displaying Futures Award, Merck has been collaborating intensively with start-ups and universities for years and also conducts, for example, the Accelerator program for start-ups at its sites in Darmstadt and Nairobi, Kenya. Moreover, Merck regularly holds hackathons and invests in start-up companies via corporate venturing.