This week, Merck, a leading science and technology company, opened applications for the next round of its accelerator programs in Darmstadt, Germany, and Nairobi, Kenya. Merck is looking globally, seeking young start-ups with a digital approach in the fields of healthcare, life science and performance materials.
In this upcoming intake, the Nairobi programme is implementing some new changes. The financial support for the start-ups has been raised from US$ 15,000 to up to US$ 30,000 and the start-ups are moving into our new workspace, Metta, Nairobi. The teams in Nairobi and Darmstadt will still have the option to extend their acceleration period via a month-long residence in Silicon Valley. This opportunity represents the possibility for the start-ups to test and prove their product and business model in the United States.
Owing to the number of highly qualified applications of the last intake, Merck decided to expand its Nairobi programme.
The start-ups now are going to be housed in Metta Nairobi,where the teams will have the opportunity to be part of a more international environment. Metta not only provides us with a working space but also networking opportunities and events within its global community of entrepreneurs and innovators.
In addition to that, Merck has doubled the amount it is providing the start-ups in the Nairobi accelerator programme. Instead of US$ 15,000, the three selected start-ups will now receive up to US$ 30,000 in financial assistance.
Michael Gamber, Head of the Merck Innovation Center, explains the changes in Nairobi as follows:
“Due to the dynamic nature of the digital health market in Nairobi, we decided to invest more in the start-ups here and to link them up with a more global community. We also recognise that many start-ups here on the African continent need financial support of a certain level in order to give them the opportunity to push their ideas forward.”
For the start-ups applying to the accelerator in Darmstadt, the opportunities provided by the programme will remain unchanged. However, Michael Gamber points out some specific business segments that are of interest to the program in the upcoming year:
“Our rough focus will stay on Merck’s key competencies in life science, performance materials and healthcare, but for this intake we are particularly interested in wearables, sensors, bioengineering and other solutions that individualise healthcare provision. The trend is increasingly turning toward individually tailored medicine.”
The programmes in both Darmstadt and Nairobi will start on March 6, 2017, and will end on May 24, 2017. The application period will run from October 17 through December 19, 2016, via the accelerator website.