Merck unveils Silicon Valley extension for its digital health Accelerator schemes

German Merck’s Accelerator programme will now extend as far as Silicon Valley as part of a recent effort to internationalise the scheme.

The programme will now give two start-ups – one from Merck KGaA’s Dormstadt, Germany Accelerator and one from its new Nairobi Accelerator – the opportunity to move to Silicon Valley for a month, following the initial three-month Accelerator period.

The option will give the selected teams the chance to establish new connections and investors as well as test their product in the American market – all within an ecosystem that is widely considered the leading community of digital and tech start-ups in the world. Current residents include Facebook, Apple and Google.

“Silicon Valley is the region with the world’s highest venture capital ratio,” said Michael Gamber, Head of the Merck Innovation Center. “We want to provide our start-ups with the best support to establish themselves internationally and to network. A bridge to the Silicon Valley is the logical step.”

The Accelerator programme, which itself has only recently expanded into the African market,  seeks to find start-up companies that focus on the fields of healthcare, life science and performance materials, primarily backing those with a digital focus.

Start-ups currently partaking in the scheme include Check-ER, the world’s first and only app that provides information about emergency room waiting times near a person’s location, and Miti Health, an app designed to optimise the supply chain of medication in Kenya.

In addition to its Silicon Valley extension scheme, Merck also revealed an increase in funding for the three start-ups selected for its Darmstadt programme, rising from a maximum of €25,000 funding to €50,000.

“We have recognized that many start-ups here in Europe need more financial support as of a certain level in order to develop further,” explained Gamber. “By increasing the financial support, we’re also creating the possibility to take on and foster start-ups at a more advanced stage.”

The extension scheme will no doubt garner attention from competitors Bayer and Johnson & Johnson whose respective programmes Grant4Apps and Digital Health Masterclass also focus on finding and accelerating the development of digital health start-ups.

Merck’s Accelerator programmes will start on September 12th this year in both Darmstadt and Nairobi, ending in December.

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